Global Aid in the Water Sector: A Descriptive Analysis of International Development Effectiveness

Andrew Hargrove


This study analyzes the intent and effectiveness of international development aid through a content/trend analysis of over 42,000 aid projects in the water supply and sanitation sector. The water sector is a vital and understudied component of international development that is rife with internal contradictions. On the one hand, access to water is rapidly increasing cross-nationally, but over 700 million still lack improved access to water. On the other hand, renewable freshwater resources per capita are rapidly decreasing, and annual freshwater withdrawals are steadily increasing. These concurrent issues lead to water stress and decreased freshwater sustainability, which in turn affects global political, ecological, and health issues. To address these issues, national governments and multinational aid agencies have been lending to the water supply and sanitation sector since 1950. This study assesses the trends in international aid over the past 65 years for their intent and effectiveness in solving global water and development issues. The results have implications for the development effectiveness of nations’ and organizations’ aid and calls for social scientists to investigate well-being and environmental impacts simultaneously in all sectors of development. 

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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