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Last Updated 15th July 2023.

How much funding is the WASH Sector forecast to receive in 2023?

Funding to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector is forecast to be between $1.0bn and $2.0bn in 2023. Our central estimate is $1.5bn. For reference, the WASH sector received $1.2bn in total last year.

This forecast is based on our 95% probability range. In other words, we are 95% sure that funding will be between $1.0bn and $2.0bn. Below are the other forecast ranges for the WASH sector. As we become less sure about our forecast, the range narrows. So for example, we think there’s a 50% probability that funding will be between $1.3bn and $1.6bn.

But we need to put this into context. What does the forecast mean in terms of reaching the funding that is required for the sector (also known as the funding requirement)? The total funding requirement globally is determined by how much is needed in each context. If you hover over the donut below you’ll be able to see the chances of reaching 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of the funding that is required.

We think that it’s almost certain that the WASH sector will receive 25% of funding required, with a remote chance of reaching 50% of what is required. Bear in mind the sector only reached 31% of what was required in 2022.


How does the 2023 forecast compare to previous years?

The funding needed for the WASH sector has nearly trebled in the past seven years, from $1.2bn in 2016, to $4.1bn in 2023. This is equivalent to a year-on-year increase in the funding required of 19%.

Yet, at the same time that the WASH sector was asking for more in 2021, funding to the WASH sector stagnated in 2020 and 2021. Despite this, the sector experienced a large leap in 2022 to $1.2bn, up from $626m in 2021. This leap in funding also led to the funding gap decreasing from 79% to 69%.

The forecast for 2023 puts WASH at levels far above what the sector had previously received pre-2022. The range of $1bn to $2bn is more in line with what the sector received in 2022.

With the funding gap closing in 2022, that means that WASH climbed out of a real humanitarian recession. In this story, we’ve defined a real humanitarian recession as two consecutive years of a growing funding gap. So what are the odds of the sector continuing to experience real growth (closing the funding gap)?

We think that it is likely that the WASH sector will grow in 2022 – meaning that the funding gap will close. But there’s also a realistic possibility that the sector will experience real negative growth, in other words, the funding gap will increase.


How does the 2023 forecast compare to other sectors?

The WASH sector is forecast to rank 6th out of all humanitarian sectors. This places WASH firmly in the ‘top-half’ of sectors which tend to have $800m+ in funding received and $3bn+ funding requirements.


The current state of things

By June 2023, funding to the WASH sector was ahead of the same point than previous years ($557m vs. $258m in June 2022). This bodes well for the sector, and suggests that the uplift in funding that was experienced in 2022 is set to continue.

Back in July 2022, we thought that the WASH sector in 2022 fell into a similar pattern as previous years. However, there has been an unexpected uplift in funding between September and December 2022, and funding stood at double than at the same point in previous years – reflecting the general uplift across the humanitarian sector.


Features of the WASH sector in 2022

Despite the success of the WASH response in oPt (92%), Chad (90%), Guatemala (78%), other contexts weren’t so successful in raising funding for WASH. In fact, 14 out of 41 contexts with a WASH requirement did not receive 25% of what they asked for last year.

The average WASH sector response was only 29% funded in 2022, and this means that the average WASH response didn’t get around 7 out of every 10 dollars that it asked for in 2022. Having said that, the median across all sectors is 25%, which shows that this is not just an issue for WASH, but also more broadly.

We’ll try to measure just how unequal the sector is in the future with the creation of an ‘Inequity Index’, and to benchmark against other sectors as well. We’ll also try to explain the causes of the inequity. Could it be due to the size of the funding requirement, donor preferences, under reporting, how recent the emergency is, or other factors?

The US Government is the largest source of funding, contributing 48% of all funding, followed by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) (7%), ECHO (6%), and the Government of Germany (5%). These four donors contribute two out of every three dollars of all WASH funding. However, there are also many other donors contributing to WASH funding – 87 in total in 2021.

We can measure the diversity of a sector using the Herfindahl Hirschman Index. On a scale of 0 to 10,000, a sector is moderately concentrated if it has a score between 1,500 and 2,500. The WASH Sector had a HHI score of 1,974 in 2022, meaning that the sector was moderately concenrated (around the donor that is the US Government).

In terms of the organisations receiving funding, UNICEF receives 30% of all WASH funding. This is perhaps unsurprising as UNICEF are the cluster lead agency for WASH. However, there were also 181 other organisations that also received WASH funding, including 73 other organisations receiving over $1m. Most of these organisations are international (either UN agencies or INGOs), including: IOM, ACF, ACTED, NRC, CARE, World Vision, Solidarites, Mercy Corps, Red Cross/Red Crescent, Oxfam, Save, CRS, and Concern, who all received over $10m in 2021 for WASH.


Methodology

The usual health warning: FTS doesn’t capture everything. It is a platform that relies on voluntary reporting by organisations. But it is the most comprehensive source of data for humanitarian funding.

For forecast methodology, click here. We’ll be keeping a record of all our forecasts and success over time, which you can find here.

To find out methodology and sources for other things on this page which aren’t the forecast, click here.

Note: Numbers in ‘The current state of things’ graph may differ from elsewhere on the page as the data was extracted on a different date (8th July 2023) than other numbers that also show how much was received (i.e. the column chart).