Water and Sanitation

Water is a major challenge for the 21st century… Shortages, poor water quality and the lack of sanitation facilities have a negative impact on food security, health, gender equality and living conditions for disadvantaged people. For AFD, water is also a vital resource which needs to be protected and managed for the benefit of all. This is the overriding vision in the large number of projects for access to water and sanitation which we are supporting all over the world.
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Kenya, shower, shanty town, Kibera
AFD, water and sanitation: more effectively managing resources and addressing the challenges of universal access
water access, Kinshasa

Supporting the definition of clear and effective sectoral frameworks

Jodhpur, water, India

Supporting the definition of clear and effective sectoral frameworks

AFD’s top priority is to strengthen national and local governance to ensure there is a sustainable technical and financial management of the sector, and thereby support our partners beyond the funded projects.

Some 50% of projects provide for institutional support and over 80% include capacity building actions.

Providing high-quality water and sanitation services

Water distribution, school, Ouganda, Gentilhomme

Providing high-quality water and sanitation services

In the contexts of rapid urban and population growth experienced by many developing countries, ensuring access to water and sanitation poses a major challenge. AFD addresses this challenge by financing the construction and rehabilitation of drinking water production and distribution infrastructure, primarily targeting precarious neighborhoods and areas of urban sprawl.

These projects are defined in consultation with the authorities responsible for water and sanitation services and pay special attention to public places, such as schools and health centers. They also include hygiene awareness-raising campaigns in order to reduce the incidence of diseases related to the consumption of unsafe water.

AFD is particularly vigilant over the sustainability of the infrastructure it finances and works closely with its partners to ensure the quality and sustainability of water and sanitation services. It also ensures they are accessible to all, including the poorest.

Rural areas are not neglected: specific programs are implemented in small towns and rural villages to provide levels of service comparable to those developed in large urban centers.

Sutainably managing water resources

waste water processing, Morocco, sanitation, Zizola

Sutainably managing water resources

To meet the strong increase in demand, AFD advocates for integrated water resources management (IWRM). This ensures that there is a concerted distribution between the various uses (agricultural, domestic, energy, industrial) and that the needs of ecosystems are taken into account.

In a context of climate change, especially droughts, our top priority is the efficiency of water use in the activities with the highest consumption: agriculture, industry and drinking water. The objective is to preserve both the quantity and quality of resources.

To preserve the quantity, we support projects to reduce losses and waste, initiatives to renew groundwater reserves, and “non-conventional” measures, such as wastewater reuse for agriculture and industry, seawater desalination and the construction of dams.

To preserve the quality, we finance the construction of domestic water treatment plants and industrial effluent treatment plants.

Controling flood risks

Fortaleza, flood, street, Cardoso

Controling flood risks

Floods are the phenomenon which affects the most people worldwide. Asia is the most exposed continent in the world: 9 out of the 10 most affected countries are Asian.

AFD finances stormwater management projects in large cities, where floods cause major damage and hinder economic development. These projects are located in vulnerable areas and improve the resilience of cities by contributing to adaptation to climate change. Our flood risk management strategy is based on three complementary and interconnected principles: prevention, preparation and a culture of risk-awareness.

To prevent risks, AFD promotes an organization of the territory which anticipates the occurrence of a flood well before the crisis situation. Our priorities: limit urbanization in flood-prone areas and manage land use. We also prepare the populations in question for the management of the crisis in order to facilitate the reaction to the occurrence of a flood. The objective: make sure people are safe and ensure a rapid return to normality of the main services and activities in the territory. Finally, we transmit a culture of risk-awareness to all stakeholders (public and private institutions, civil society and the population) to improve the resilience and adaptation capacity of cities.

EUR 1.2bn committed in 2016
million additional people with access to drinking water
people benefit from sustainable access to sanitation

The water and sanitation sector is central to sustainable development challenges. Access to drinking water and sanitation was recognized as a human right by the United Nations in 2010 and is a prerequisite for improving public health and gender equality. Water is a source of life and biodiversity. It is a global good and its preservation is one of the main environmental challenges of the 21st century, especially as this resource is already under pressure and is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Water and sanitation are also engines for greener and more inclusive growth.

The importance of water in the international agenda for the fight against poverty for over 15 years has brought about significant headway. However, 2.1 billion people do not have access to drinking water at home and 4.4 billion do not have improved sanitation services… Furthermore, the sector suffers from a lack of governance, which reduces its effectiveness and deters potential investors.

AFD attaches particular importance to water and sanitation. We have a wide range of means for operations in the sector: capacity building and social support, infrastructure financing, knowledge production and partnerships.

Between 2014 and 2018, we have committed an annual average of EUR 700m for the sector in developing countries, and EUR 50m in countries in the French overseas territories. At least EUR 250m contribute to adaptation to climate change. 50% of our “water projects” also have a positive impact on gender equality.

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This map is for illustrative purposes only and does not engage the responsibility of the AFD Group
Funding type


Funding type

  • Delegation of European Union Funds
  • Grant
  • Loan
  • Non Sovereign Concessional Loan
  • Non Sovereign Non Concessional Loan
  • Sovereign Concessional Loan
  • Sovereign Non Concessional Loan


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Dec 2017
Research document

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As in many large cities, the now prevailing technical model for producing and distributing water in La Paz and El Alto is that of a centralized network serving the whole ...
Jun 2016
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Filmed evaluation

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Jun 2010
Institutional document

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This document is the water and sanitation mid-term review of the sectorial intervention framework for 2014-2018
Institutional document

8th World Water Forum Press Kit

The international community will be gathering at the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia (18 - 23 March 2018) to discuss water, a vital resource. The situation is urgent: over 2 billion men, women ...
Institutional document

Water & sanitation: 2017 Review of the implementation of the strategy for 2014-2018

EUR 1.3 billion for the water and sanitation sector 2017 confirmed the strong growth in the annual volume of financing approvals, which has doubled since 2014. Out of EUR 1.3 billion, EUR 1.2 billion concern ...

French Guiana: Spring water ... finally drinkable

In the Amerindian village of Favard, in the municipality of Roura in French Guiana, the installation of a water treatment unit has given residents access to drinking water all year ...
Mar 2018

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Marsabit forest, a natural space surrounded by desert, covers an area of over 16,000 hectares. This region in the North of Kenya hosts a core resource for neighboring communities and significant ...
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Why is the water issue a major challenge?

Today, 2.1 billion people do not have access to drinking water and 4.5 billion people do not benefit from sanitation services.
Mar 2018

Céline Gilquin: Water issue a major challenge

In the context of the next World Water Forum, which will kick off on 18 March in Brazil, Céline Gilquin, Head of AFD’s Water and Sanitation Division, gives details ...
Mar 2018