Benefits of Investing in Water and Sanitation

An OECD Perspective

image of Benefits of Investing in Water and Sanitation

The provision of water supply, sanitation and wastewater services generates substantial benefits for public health, the economy and the environment. Benefit-to-cost ratios can be as high as 7 to 1 for basic water and sanitation services in developing countries.

Wastewater treatment interventions, for example, generate significant benefits for public health, the environment and for certain economic sectors such as fisheries, tourism and property markets.

The full magnitude of the benefits of water services is seldom considered for a number of reasons, including the difficulty in quantifying important non-economic benefits such as non-use values, dignity, social status, cleanliness and overall well-being. Also, information about the benefits of water services is usually hidden in the technical literature, where it remains invisible to key decision-makers in ministries.

This report draws together and summarises existing information on the benefits of water and sanitation.

English Also available in: French

Policy implications

This Chapter brings together data and analysis from the previous chapters in order to identify where the most significant benefits from investing in water and sanitation stem from. The chapter starts by identifying what we currently know about the overall benefits of investing in WSS (Section 5.1.). Second, we examine how such information can be used to support policymaking for identifying priority investments in WSS so as to allocate scarce financial resources to the areas that generate most benefits (Section 5.2). Finally, the chapter explores needs for additional research, at both the local and global levels in order to gather additional evidence for sound policymaking and investment in WSS (Section 5.3.).

English Also available in: French

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