Access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities is vital for a healthy life. Simple hygiene measures can prevent many diseases. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 shows that the ratio of the world population with access to improved drinking water supply has risen from 76% in 1990 to 91% and access to improved sanitary facilities has been extended from 54% to 68%. Over 80% of wastewater is, however, still discharged untreated into rivers, lakes and oceans and drinking water supply is contaminated for lack of sewage systems. About 1.8 billion people remain without access to clean drinking water.

This is why managing drinking water supply and keeping waters clean is of particular importance. The Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation, supports developing countries in setting up sustainable water supply and sanitation facilities and strengthens the responsible institutions. Suitable operator capacities for water and wastewater infrastructure play a special role here. Besides trained personnel, this also calls for clear water legislation and institutions that are capable of implementing the regulations. As access to water supply and sanitation is a human right, water and wastewater tariffs must be regulated so that they are affordable for all classes of society, while also providing enough revenue to pay for operating costs.

ADA supports water supply and sanitation projects and programs of selected global organisations and in the priority countries Albania, Moldova, Mozambique, Palestine and Uganda.

Sustainable water management approaches in a given region are closely linked with energy and food issues: If the world population grows to nine billion people by 2050, this will place even more pressure on scarce water resources. The sustainable use of water for water supply, power generation and food production helps reduce poverty and protect the environment. It also plays a key role for peace and stability.