Policy Context

Despite Germany’s status as the largest donor to sanitation, the topic receives relatively low attention.

The previous government highlighted sanitation as an issue in the BMZ’s 2017 Water Strategy; however, the Scholz government’s approach to the WASH sector and sanitation is not explicitly stated in the document. Despite its lower prioritization, WASH has received increased attention from the German government in relation to efforts related to pandemic prevention and the fight against PRNDs. As such, the BMZ recently established a dedicated WASH division. Despite increased interest, other items on the German agenda such as health and pandemic prevention, food security, ongoing conflicts, and education often take priority.

While the current government, in office since December 2021, has not updated the BMZ’s Water Strategy, WASH and sanitation have been mentioned in several new strategies, including the Strategy on Feminist Development Policy, the BMZ’s Africa Strategy, and the draft of the Core Topic Strategy on Health, Social Security, and Population Policy.

How is Germany’s bilateral ODA to WASH evolving?

In 2021, Germany’s ODA to sanitation was US$227 million.

Between 2017 and 2021, Germany’s ODA for sanitation has fluctuated, increasing rapidly to a peak in 2019, followed by dramatic decreases in 2020. The large increase is likely related to an increased focus on WASH as part of the UN’s Water Action Decade, which began in 2018. Recent declining funding has been driven by lagging interest in the sector and increased funding for other priorities, including COVID-19 response and humanitarian responses.

Germany’s bilateral ODA to sanitation is fairing worse than the overall WASH trend, which is relatively stable. Given proposed budget cuts, Germany’s existing ODA to sanitation is under pressure.

How does Germany allocate bilateral sanitation ODA?

Germany focuses on LDCs in its development cooperation, committing to 0.2% GNI for LDCs each year. This focus is evident in Germany’s sanitation funding, of which 31% went to LDCs. In line with Germany’s increased focus on countries on the African continent, top regions receiving funding included SSA and the MENA region. Europe was also a top regional recipient of sanitation funding, likely due to support for initiatives in the ‘European Neighborhood’ and response to the war in Ukraine. Similar to many other donors, within sanitation, Germany focuses on large systems and water supply.

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