UK shows ‘shameful diversion of funding away from the global water crisis’ – response to ICAI WASH report

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has published its information note today (7 April) mapping the UK’s changing approach to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The in-depth analysis reflects the wider experiences of the sector over recent years, which has seen dramatic cuts in funding.

The report from the aid watchdog highlights how the UK set and met ambitious targets for WASH programming – including reaching 62.6million people in the period 2015-2015. But is also observes a steep decline in UK bilateral aid for WASH from 2018, raising questions given the importance of WASH in the global response to the pandemic.

Nick Hepworth, director at Water Witness and co-chair of UK WASH Network, said:
“This report shows the shameful diversion of funding away from the global water crisis by this government. Unless this is reversed, millions of the world’s poorest people will be condemned to Ill health, lost opportunities and climate-related disasters.
“Funding to the sector has dropped since 2018 from 2.7% of the UK aid budget to 0.5%, even while the overall budget has been cut. Without WASH, the government cannot make meaningful progress on their stated objectives. The provision of water, sanitation and hygiene is critical to supporting the UK priorities of women, girls, health, hygiene and climate resilience in our international development agenda.
“We want to see WASH reprioritised in the forthcoming International Development Strategy, both in terms of financial and technical resourcing. This will be crucial to ensure that FCDO can meet its wider development objectives and support the transition to the new and exciting programming approach based on systems strengthening.”

Virginia Newton- Lewis, senior policy analyst at WaterAid and co-chair of UK WASH Network, said:
“Hopefully the findings of the report will prove to be a turning point in the UK’s approach and focus on WASH.”


Notes to editor

  1. The UK WASH Network is a working group at Bond comprising 82 organisations.
  2. Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development.Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
  3. To see the new report, click here.
  4. For further information or interviews please contact Juliet Conway on 07990518334 or [email protected]