Investments in water in poor nations give big benefits

2015-02-09 09:07

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Oslo - Investing to provide drinking water for 750 million people in poor nations who lack clean supplies makes clear economic sense with bigger than expected health benefits, World Bank estimates showed on Friday.

A parallel drive to improve sanitation, especially in India where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made basic toilets a national priority, would also yield strong returns without even considering improved human dignity.

"Provision of basic water and sanitation facilities ... would be a good investment in economic terms," Guy Hutton, senior economist at the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Programme, wrote in a report.

Universal access to basic drinking water at home would cost $14bna year until 2030 and yield benefits of $52bn, or about $4 for every dollar spent, according to the preliminary findings that will form part of a wider review.

The benefits were twice those estimated in a previous global study Hutton led in 2012, he told Reuters, partly because of larger than expected falls in diarrheal disease and lower costs of digging wells or boreholes.

Overall, building toilets to eliminate defecation outside in rural areas would cost $13bn a year to 2030 and give benefits of $84bn, a return of $6 for every dollar spent. The benefits were slightly less than in a previous study.

Investments in better water could mean 170 000 fewer deaths a year while basic sanitation would cut 80 000 deaths, mostly from infectious diarrhoea.

Water and sanitation have long been UN priorities. In the past 25 years, more than two billion people of a world population now totalling about 7.3 billion have gained access to better water and almost two billion to sanitation.

The findings are also part of a series for the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which is looking at costs and benefits of everything from crop research to fighting Aids as part of new UN development goals for 2030.

"We can save a lot of people" with clean drinking water and sanitation, Bjorn Lomborg, head of the Center, told Reuters. Even so, rates of return were "not as spectacular" as investing in nutrition or ending malaria.

Still, Hutton said the study estimated only health benefits and time saved, such as from walking to a river to fetch water.

"They hide intangible impacts such as dignity, social status and security," he said. The United Nations in 2010 defined improved sanitation and water as fundamental human rights.

Read more on:    world bank  |  india  |  water
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.