Woman sips a cup of clean water


The FY 2020 annual Global Water and Development Report explores USAID's water security, sanitation and hygiene activities and highlights USAID's achievements towards targets and goals set out in the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy.

Find story spotlights below, read the full report, and explore an interactive map of FY20 results.

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Strengthen Sector Governance and Finance
Improve Management of Water Resources
Increase Access to Safe Drinking Water
Increase Access and Use of Sanitation and the Practice of Key Hygiene Behaviors
CAMBODIA Expanding water supplies and services
SENEGAL Capitalizing on growth potential in sanitation services

Stories by Global Trends

Responding to COVID-19

Indonesia: Promote handwashing

In Indonesia, USAID worked with civil society groups and local governments to mobilize demand for safe drinking water and improved sanitation services, and to build the capacity of private businesses, utilities, and national-level programs to provide these services in a fair and sustainable manner. These efforts led to more than 1 million people gaining access to safe drinking water and more than 700,000 people gaining access to improved sanitation services.

Global: Maintain continuity of services

The USAID Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) project researched the impacts of COVID-19 on WASH across seven countries to shape and target emergency assistance during the pandemic. The research found that many national and county governments, especially in low- and middle-income countries, deemed access to WASH as essential. Despite this, nearly a third of respondents said their water access had become more challenging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as many as 30 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa may have lost access to even a basic source of water.

Some larger water service providers, like utilities in Kenya and Senegal, avoided disruptions with assistance from the national government and aid institutions. Many smaller operators, however, were under acute financial pressure. In Nepal, small to mid-sized utilities indicated widespread losses in July 2020, and 4 of 10 reported no revenue since the onset of the pandemic. Ghana’s free water mandate, the most expansive and long-lasting in Africa, while well-intentioned, placed rural water and small-town providers under considerable financial pressure due to delays in reimbursements of lost revenue.

Data-Informed Decisions and Targets

Africa Facilitate regional strategic planning

USAID’s Water for Africa through Leadership and Institutional Support (WALIS) program assisted the African Ministers’ Council on Water in strategic and financial planning to identify new and existing country-led monitoring and reporting processes that support continent-wide priorities related to water and sanitation. The resulting Ngor Commitments Monitoring Framework was used in 2020 to conduct a second round of data collection and measure progress on national sanitation targets in more than 50 member countries.

Haiti Identify system improvements

The USAID Water and Sanitation Project partnered with other donors and the Government of Haiti to improve billing and collections at municipal water service providers. A nine-month collaboration led to the development and customization of a cloud-based system on the mWater platform to upload data on water production, operating costs, and sales using ten key monthly performance indicators. In the beginning, the initiative supported five utilities and, following a decision by the Haiti Water and Sanitation Authority, expanded to 26 service providers. To date, the project has increased sustainable water access to more than 130,000 people through expanded services to households and community water sales points (kiosks) and has helped 18 small and medium-sized sanitation businesses reach customers faster.

Building Climate Resilience at the Source

Southern Africa Enhance environmental resilience

Protecting diverse ecosystems upstream improves the quality and quantity of water flowing downstream, contributing to the sustainability of the community livelihoods that are dependent on these ecosystems. Along the Limpopo River in Southern Africa, USAID’s Resilient Waters Program provided grants to local organizations working in protected areas to improve water catchment management and assist governments, park personnel, and communities prepare for climate change pressures on biodiversity and water supplies. One grant supported traditional leaders and local municipalities to conduct socio-economic and water, sanitation, and hygiene surveys to develop climate change adaptation activities.

Phillipines Support public health, environmental protection, economic growth, and community goodwill.

In the Philippines, USAID’s Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) project and the Tagbilaran City Government, in partnership with the private sector, developed a septage management program to benefit around 200,000 people. This was one of many strategies for resilient and low-emission local economic development. This type of institutional strengthening pays dividends in sustained improved services, reduced pollution, and lower water treatment costs, and increased trust among Tagbilaran City’s residents in its public utilities and local government. This was part of a “whole of government” partnership between the governments of the United States and the Philippines to support an inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high‐performing emerging economies.

Managing Water Resources in Fragile States

South Sudan Put women at the center of safety planning.

USAID worked directly with communities in South Sudan through the Integrated WASH Response and Prevention of Gender-Based Violence program to improve access to safe water and sanitation and encourage women’s leadership. USAID trained women to take on leadership and management roles in water management structures within communities as well as within local, county, and state governments. With women at the center of management and maintenance planning, USAID is building and repairing water points and distribution systems, as well as sanitation infrastructure for households, health centers, and schools. This work includes safety audits in consultation with local women and girls to ensure sanitation and water sources are perceived as safe as a measure to mitigate sexual assault.

Burkina Faso and Niger Promote fair use.

In Burkina Faso and Niger, water scarcity and water resource mismanagement affects farming, livestock livelihoods, and the availability of water for household use. This sometimes results in violent conflicts and internal displacements. To address these challenges, USAID’s Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) II program and its water and resilience activity—TerresEauVie (TEV)—are working with communes to improve access to data and information so that they can make more informed decisions about water resources and WASH investments

Communes in both countries are responsible for managing land, natural resources, water, and infrastructure development. Because this can be difficult in the Sahel, commune officials were especially interested in using these data to develop local land use and natural resource and risk management plans. For example, in southwestern Niger, the commune of Filingué was looking for ways to solve frequent conflicts over water sources. TEV, in collaboration with other RISE II implementers, worked with communal authorities and their stakeholders to map out the various resources and competing interests in the area. Using this information, they developed a plan and a series of administrative ordinances that established fair water and land use.

Empowering Women in the Water Sector

Morocco Innovative training attracts women.

In Morocco, USAID’s H2O Maghreb activity is addressing water sector challenges by training the next generation of water managers on state-of-the-art technology and building the country’s capacity for sustainable water and wastewater management.

To equip youth with the necessary skills to find a job in water and wastewater management, H2O Maghreb uses an innovative training approach, combining hands-on experience and technologies such as virtual reality. This training has been very popular among young women, who make up the majority of each cohort—even though this field is traditionally male-dominated—supporting USAID’s objective to promote female empowerment.

To date, H2O Maghreb has trained four out of five planned cohorts of water technicians. Seventy-five percent of the 91 students trained found employment within six months of graduation (before the COVID-19 pandemic). In addition, the program trained more than 164 professionals already working in public or private water sector companies. The program is currently supporting the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University to adapt H2O Maghreb for its bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

India Invest in communities along supply chains.

Women make up approximately 80 percent of garment workers. The garment industry is responsible for roughly one-fifth of freshwater pollution globally. The USAID Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance is committed to improving and sustaining the health and well-being of women and communities touched by the apparel industry in India and, to date, has empowered more than 1 million people to improve their access to clean water and sanitation. As of October 2021, Women + Water Alliance partners CARE, Water.org, WaterAid, and Institute for Sustainable Communities had reached 140,216 women in rural India through the Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. program. The project mobilized more than $9.7 million in WASH financing and facilitated more than 50,000 affordable loans for women for piped water connections, water filtration, water storage, new sanitation facilities, and retrofits. The project also developed more than 1,000 Village Action Plans for increasing local water access and trained over 3,000 cotton farmers on methods to reduce water and chemical use in cotton production.

Global Period inclusion for workplace dignity.

Working women experience significant challenges stemming from lack of access to private, safe, and hygienic toilets, inadequate provisions for managing menstruation, and stigma around menstruation. USAID’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) program found, as part of a 2019 review of existing evidence, that policies in many countries inhibit investments in menstrual hygiene management improvements. Efforts to address menstrual hygiene would benefit from an intersectional approach that emphasized “period inclusion” in the workplace, where menstruators are not penalized and do not experience stigma or lack opportunities because of menstruation. In response, WASHPaLS implemented workplace menstrual hygiene health interventions at four workplaces in Nepal and Kenya; results from these interventions, including a cost-benefit analysis of implementing workplace menstrual hygiene health interventions, will be available in late 2021 and early 2022.

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Strengthen Sector Governance and Finance

Cambodia Expanding Water Supplies and Services

Because only 12 of Cambodia’s 25 provincial areas have functioning public water systems, private water operators (PWOs) play a vital role in filling this gap in service provision. Those who invest, develop, and operate private water systems are enabled by the development of a governance structure that has formalized and legalized PWO operations through a licensing framework. USAID has worked in partnership with the Cambodia Water Supply Association to provide tailored capacity-building support to more than 20 PWOs, working to build their creditworthiness and, once ready, apply for loan financing. With USAID’s support, five PWOs have now closed 13 loan transactions, generating over $3.46 million in financing to enable capital investment in water supply network expansions and service improvements. More transactions are expected in the near future as PWOs continue to make internal improvements required to strengthen their creditworthiness. In Kandal Province, the Kampong Chamlong Water Supply’s loan transactions alone will enable more than 70,000 people to have improved access to higher quality water.

Senegal Capitalizing on Growth Potential in Sanitation Services

In Senegal, WASH-FIN surveyed 100 sanitation service providers to assess the growth potential of their businesses. Finding that many of these businesses were not well positioned to grow, USAID designed a program to support the expansion of sanitation services with new business plans, capital raising strategies, financial modeling, and the development of compelling loan applications to local commercial banks. This program complements the role of the Senegalese government in creating a market for private sanitation services, primarily through operations and maintenance contracts held by several of the largest sanitation service providers.

Vidange Curage Assainissement Du Sahel (VICAS) is a successful sanitation service provider founded in 2000 and is now one of Senegal’s four largest with an annual revenue of approximately $4.5 million, and a fleet of 22 trucks, 29 full-time staff, and 300 seasonal workers. With assistance from USAID, VICAS negotiated and selected the most competitive loan offer from a major local bank. Through the loan, VICAS furthered its ability to maintain and repair its equipment and infrastructure, thereby improving the quality of sanitation services for the approximately 50,000 households it serves.

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Improve Management of Water Resources

Kenya and Tanzania Balancing Human and Environmental Needs

The Mara River Basin is home to 1.2 million people and covers nearly 14,000 square kilometers. It provides water for domestic use, productive economies (e.g., agricultural production in Kenya and Tanzania), and sustains the region’s stunning biodiversity, from forest ecosystems to the wildebeests migrating between Serengeti National Park and Maasai Mara National Reserve. USAID facilitated a stakeholder-driven process to develop and finalize a Water Allocation Plan for the Tanzania portion of the Mara River Basin, with guidelines to reserve water for basic human needs and the environment, allocate water during dry and wet periods, and issue water permits for more equitable distribution.

Cambodia Fostering Collaborative Approaches

Cambodia’s Stung Chinit Basin has the potential to be the rice bowl of Cambodia, but its irrigation system meant to service 20,000 hectares has only reached approximately 3,000 hectares since 2008. The farmers who managed the water schemes found it challenging to reliably and equitably distribute water, which led to conflicts over water access. SWP organized farmers into a working group and built capacity to address watershed issues, such as non-payment of water fees and inefficient use of water. SWP developed a low-cost game to help facilitate discussions and mutual understanding of the watershed and water management tradeoffs. Participants used wooden blocks, paper, and gameboard pieces to represent irrigation scheme components. They built a scale replica of their community’s irrigation scheme, starting with the main canal and adding distribution canals and gates. The game increased participants’ understanding of how their irrigation scheme functions within the larger system and the importance of conducting timely maintenance. A Plan of Intervention developed by the group will now serve as a roadmap for water management.

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Increase Sustainable Access to Safe Drinking Water

Uganda Shifting Paradigms for System-Wide Improvements

In Uganda, the USAID-funded Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership (SWS), along with its partner, Whave Solutions, a local water service provider, collaborated with the government to build a sustainable model for rural water service delivery in four pilot districts. Previously, water points in these areas did not fully function as much as 70 percent of the time. “Mechanics actually had a financial incentive not to keep hand pumps maintained regularly and didn’t have access to quality parts,” says Adam Harvey, Whave’s Managing Director. Rather than paying mechanics only when they fixed a broken hand pump, Whave linked payment to the number of days the pump was in good working order. As a result of this performance payment, preventive maintenance occurs on a regular basis. When breakdowns do occur, they are repaired promptly. Whave has demonstrated its ability to maintain high levels of functionality, consistently above 97 percent, while maintaining payment compliance and minimizing the number and duration of breakdowns through this preventive maintenance model.

Madagascar Driving Investment in Rural Water Services

To generate greater investment in safe water access in Madagascar (currently facing a severe drought), USAID’s RANO WASH program works with the government and private sector enterprises to identify public-private partnerships to invest in, build, and operate rural water systems. In 2021, 19 private operators provided affordable and reliable piped water services to more than 31,000 people. These operators invested almost $250,000 of their own funds into their water supply system. This is part of a larger shift toward public-private partnerships across the country.

Lebanon Building Climate-Smart Industry

USAID’s Lebanon Water Project worked to improve both the service delivery of safe drinking water and water resources management to address the dual crisis of climate change and an influx of Syrian refugees. This two-pronged approach included an $800,000 investment in a solar-powered pumping station that saves the Bekaa Water Establishment $60,000 a year in fuel costs and provides 21,000 people in Ghazzeh, a city hosting numerous refugees, with 24-hour water service. USAID also worked with the Association of Lebanese Industrialists to introduce water-saving and recycling technologies in nine stone-cutting factories, resulting in a 90 percent decrease in freshwater use, $700,000 annual savings in water fees, and reduced pollution in the Litani River Basin.

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Increase Access and Use of Sanitation and the Practice of Key Hygiene Behaviors

Ghana Targeting Assistance to Maintain Toilet Use

USAID’s WASHPaLS activity partnered with USAID/Ghana, UNICEF Ghana, and the Government of Ghana to understand how financial support to poor and vulnerable households could encourage toilet ownership and use. The study covered 109 communities in northern Ghana where earlier sanitation programs had initially achieved open defecation-free status. They found that sanitation conditions had deteriorated dramatically since the program ended, largely due to the poor quality latrines initially constructed.

Led by local district assemblies and the participation of the community, poor and vulnerable households were identified and provided with vouchers they could use to select an installed, high-quality toilet from a certified local supplier or artisan. This study found that the vouchers increased the ownership and use of toilets among those who received them and those in the same compounds. Future sanitation programs should consider targeted subsidies and more robust support for local sanitation markets as part of efforts to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of outcomes.

Global Private sector partnerships for scale

The private sector, both local and global, makes critical contributions to addressing the global sanitation crisis. In 2020, USAID announced a new partnership with global sanitation company LIXIL to extend market-based solutions for low-income households, schools, and healthcare facilities to access sanitation and hygiene products that meet their needs. This partnership will scale production and sales of LIXIL's SATO latrine and toilet products in up to 11 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. In 2021, USAID and LIXIL will start activities under this partnership that seek to strengthen sanitation supply chains, create business opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and grow small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging economies.

Global Games for growth

USAID works with implementing partners, donors, and other sector stakeholders to fill gaps in and broaden the evidence base on the use and effectiveness of sanitation interventions, using that evidence to develop useful training programs for global programs. In a review of market-based sanitation programs, USAID’s WASHPaLS activity identified a range of tactics and factors that enabled enterprises to grow and thrive. These findings informed USAID’s Market-Based Sanitation game, which teaches potential sanitation entrepreneurs the fundamentals of a sanitation market system and how an enterprise’s choices affect its viability as a business.

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