This report presents an overview of the economic and health benefits of sanitation, hygiene and water supply:
1. Progress towards achieving the water and sanitation MDGs is poor, particularly in
sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, diarrhoea remains the second leading
cause of death among children under five globally; killing more children
than AIDS, malaria and measles combined
Investments in improved sanitation, water supply facilities and promotion of improved hygiene behaviours are both cost-beneficial and cost-effective, comparing
favourably with other primary health interventions
Interventions reduce the heavy burden on poor families’ finances, the health system
and the economy as a whole, through lost productivity, and time spent
fetching water or seeking a private place of defecation or caring for
The reduced health burden related to diarrhoeal diseases is of particular benefit to women and children
Improved facilities in schools result in increased attendance and the linked improvement to nutritional status contributes towards cognitive development and
The combination of the benefits contribute towards the national economy of developing nations that equates to 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This report was produced by DEW Point, a Resource Centre for
Environment, Water and Sanitation, that was funded by DFID and managed
by a consortium of companies led by Harewelle International Limited.
Parkinson, J. Overview of the benefits of sanitation, hygiene and water supply. Final Report, January 2010. DEW Point, Blisworth, UK (2010) 10 pp.