World Water Day 2011: Urgent need for water and sanitation investment

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Mar. 22, 2011 -- There remains a huge investment gap to meet future infrastructure goals, even though savings from supplying basic water and sanitation services outstrip costs seven times, according to a new report from the OECD...

Mar 22nd, 2011

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Mar. 22, 2011 -- There remains a huge investment gap to meet future infrastructure goals, even though savings from supplying basic water and sanitation services outstrip costs seven times.

As a result, governments around the world still need to overcome the annual shortfall of USD 10-30 billion to meet water and sanitation infrastructure goals set out by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In light of World Water Day, a new report from the OECD - Benefits of Water Supply and Sanitation - highlighted how much developed countries will need to invest.

The U.S. will have to spend USD 23 billion over each of the next 20 years to maintain water infrastructure at levels which meet health and environmental standards. The UK and Japan will need to increase their water spending by 20% to 40% to cope with urgent rehabilitation and upgrading of their water infrastructure.

Angel Gurria, secretary-general at the OECD, said: "People in developing countries can least afford to treat water-borne disease. Governments and the international community need to overcome the annual shortfall of USD 10-30 billion to meet the water and sanitation infrastructure goals implied by the Millennium Development Goals."

The OECD report also notes that improving water and sanitation would rank higher on the political agenda if people understood the benefits of investing in these services.

It recommends that policy makers, especially those in Ministries of Finance and Economy, develop investment strategies, based on cost-benefit analysis, and implement the polluter-pays and the user-pays principles.

This is not the first time the high investment return rate for water investment has been highlighted. In February, as part of the Virtual H20 event, Water and Wastewater Internationalorganised a live webcast on the MDGs.

During the webcast Jens Berggren, director of the World Water Week for the Stockholm International Water Institute, highlighted World Bank estimates that suggest for every US$1 invested into water supply and sanitation, you could get back between US$3 to US$34, depending on the region. In addition, he said, if you go beyond what is mandated by the MDGs for improved water quality, you could get back between US$5 to US$60 per dollar invested (register to listen to archived Virtual H2O webcasts).

For more information on this year's World Water Day visit the official website: www.unwater.org/worldwaterday

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