Water policy

© GIZ/Michael Tsegaye

Insufficient water supply is often a man-made problem. Many grievances can be remedied through good governance.


Access to clean drinking water and sanitation has been recognised as a human right since 2010. The international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also identify access to water, sanitation and hygiene for all and the protection of water resources as an important task (SDG 6).


Nevertheless, 1.8 billion people have access only to polluted water sources. According to the United Nations (UN), 4.5 billion people live without safe sanitation. Drinking water and sanitation is particularly precarious in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The consequences are complex and dramatic: inadequate water supply and wastewater treatment are partly responsible for poverty, economic stagnation and disease. According to the UN, almost 1,000 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by dirty drinking water. Without a sufficient supply of water, the goals of food security, climate adaptation and regional stability cannot be achieved.


There are many reasons for this water crisis. Poor governance is one of the most important factors. Lack of accountability and corruption affect the water supply in many places: Necessary investments are not implemented efficiently and do not reach the poor, laws are not enforced, infrastructure is not maintained. To change this, long-term reforms in the water sector are needed in addition to investments.


On behalf of the Federal Government, GIZ supports its partners in modernising their water policies and their laws on water supply and wastewater treatment. It supports reforms at national, regional and local level.


Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plays a key role here. It takes equal account of ecological, economic and social objectives in water management. Another guideline is the strengthening of administrative, financing and operational structures. The GIZ is based on the principles of good governance: accountability, transparency and participation. Above all, disadvantaged population groups should benefit from improved supply. At the same time, the GIZ helps establishing regulatory authorities for efficiency and sustainability in water management.


GIZ also participates in international technical networks. The aim is to jointly arrive at innovative, effective solutions. GIZ thus supports the regional exchange of experience between regulatory institutions in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Moreover, together with the "Water Integrity Network", GIZ has made a contribution to the professionalization of water supply companies in various countries.