USAID Launches Water Finance Resource

During World Water Week in Stockholm on Aug. 19, the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Development Credit launched a new online toolkit to help development practitioners improve financing for water and sanitation services.

During World Water Week in Stockholm on Aug. 19, the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Development Credit launched a new online toolkit to help development practitioners improve financing for water and sanitation services.

One-Stop Shop

The USAID Water Finance website, www.waterfinancesite.org, is a resource for all development professionals seeking to incorporate sustainable financing into Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WSH) programs. It facilitates a process via a set of structured questions and resource materials that assist the user in determining how to design appropriate financing interventions for a particular country context that both improve service delivery and expand water and sanitation services to impoverished neighborhoods.

Microfinance Focus magazine reported USAID Development Credit Authority director John Wasielewski, highlighting importance of this to the international development community, stated, "There are many financing options available to water and sanitation programmers, but there is no easy way to explore all these options at the same time. This website is a practical resource and one-stop shop for exploring various financing options, and will help busy practitioners make good decisions."

Site Review

A review by the WASH Finance blog notes:

The website is structured as three interlinked work areas; A) Financing Interventions; B) Assessment Toolkit; and, C) Developing a Programmatic Approach. After free registration, users first land on the "My Work" page, where they can access information they enter into the site.

The Financing Interventions area of the website allows users to investigate one of four particular types of financing: 1) Micro Finance; 2) Bank financing; 3) Capital Market financing; or 4) Government financing. Each financing type is linked to specific section of the Assessment Toolkit users will want to investigate before proceeding to Developing a Program Approach. Assessments can be carried for several options: a) WSH service providers, or b) poor households; c) Water, d) Sanitation, or e) Hygiene.

The site itself doesn't provide specific country-level information on donors, local actors and policies. It recommends users contact regional or country office representatives of the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) for such country-specific information.

The Developing a Program Approach work area helps users analyze what they've learned about the country context and develop an assistance strategy. It leads users through a process of vetting constraints and opportunities in terms of views of other donors, degree of interest evinced by institutions in the country, and identification of potential "champions" for change.

Conclusion

USAID noted, while estimates vary, between $15 and $30 billion annually is needed to meet internationally agreed goals on drinking water and sanitation. Generating these resources will require good planning, sound management, and creative approaches for mobilizing and efficiently using all forms of capital (grants, concessional and commercial debt, private equity, and inter-governmental transfers) for both large-scale and micro-financings.

"We believe," said Wasielewski, "that thoughtful use of this tool will lead to financing solutions that will ensure that even the poorest members of a society have access to safe water."

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