Donor Agencies

Compiled by:
Leonellha Barreto Dillon (seecon international gmbh)

Executive Summary

Donor agencies are an important financial help when the projects that have been developed shall be carried out to meet the strategic objectives of your sustainable sanitation and water management action plan. Getting funding for your project can take a lot of effort ― especially if you are not familiar with what is available. This guide provides a starting point for finding the right donor agency for your project.


 TOONPOOL (2009)

The question how to fund a project is an old one. Source: TOONPOOL (2009)

Funds for sanitation and water projects can come from various sources. In a very schematic way, at the level of a given project, funds may come from four main sources (TRÈMOLET et al. 2007):


  • Users of the service;
  • Taxpayers via the government budget;
  • Private participation;
  • External sources (such as international lending institutions, NGOs, INGOs, and philanthropic organisations) providing “free” money in the form of grants or subsidised loans.


The latter will be the subject of this factsheet, which provides you with information concerning external funds and with names and contact information of identified donor agencies.

External Funding

 WSP (2004)

Getting funding for your project can take a lot of effort ― especially if you are not familiar with what's available. Source: WSP (2004)



The need for external funding arises when no other approach - like payments by the beneficiaries, government contributions or public private partnerships - would be feasible. "However, it should always be kept in mind that tapping external sources usually means financing for a limited period of time and according to the rules of an external organisation. If the issue of long term financial viability has not been taken into consideration, many projects may collapse once the external finances are no longer available” (PHILIP et al. 2008).

Donor Agencies Identified

(Adapted from SONI 2005)

International Donor Organisations:

These include development banks, multilateral and bilateral organisations.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

ADB promotes stakeholdersparticipation in the management of water resources at all levels. It encourages partnerships between governments, private agencies, NGOs, and communities.

Australian Aid Agency (AUSAID)

AUSAID delivers aid to Asian countries in the sector including water and environmental sanitation.

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

CIDA supports policy reform and investment by stimulating bilateral relationships which include private sector, NGO and institutional linkages, and government-to-government co-operation.

Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)

A key area for assistance is water and sanitation, with focus on ground water based rural water supply systems.

Delegation of European Commission (EC)

EC supports programmes for rural and natural resources development including integrated watershed management. Though a large part of the assistance is channelled to government implemented bilateral programmes, projects undertaken by NGOs are also supported.

UK Department for International Development (DfID)

DFID’s partners include members of the government, private sector, NGOs, civil society and the research community. One of the priority areas is promoting increased investment in clean water.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

The GIZ (former GTZ) offers technical and financial assistance for protection and sustainability of natural resources including watershed protection and sanitation.

German Development Bank (KfW)

KfW focuses on contributing towards improving living conditions and combating poverty.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

JICA has introduced a NGO related schemes called JICA Partnership Program which aims to encourage a joint effort of the Indian and Japanese NGOs for better services, facilities and welfare to achieve a sustainable livelihood of the communities in Asia.

Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

JBIC supports economic infrastructure development, poverty reduction and environmental improvement and protection.

Royal Netherlands Embassy

The priority areas include water and sanitation with focus on few states in India — Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Gujarat.

Swedish Development Cooperation (SIDA)

SIDA is working with various organisations including NGOs and multilaterals, and focuses on environment and poverty issues, especially lack of clean water.

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

SDC promotes human and institutional development through partnerships and contributes to the reduction of poverty. One of the focus areas is sustainable management of water.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF supports developing and implementing a range of replicable models for water and sanitation sector.

US Agency for International Development (USAID)

One of the key focuses is the link between dependable electricity supply and water conservation.

The World Bank

The World Bank is partnering with various organisations to reduce poverty and improve living standards. Among the focus areas is infrastructure development, which includes the water and sanitation sector.

Private Foundations and Programmes:

Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)

AKF is Involved with rural development programmes. The majority of its projects are grants to grassroots organisations interested in testing innovative approaches in a variety of settings.

Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation focuses on rural development, including assisting efforts to improve the management of both large-and small-scale irrigation facilities using pumped groundwater

Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility (SGP-GEF)

Provides grants to NGOs, CBOs and other for projects that benefit the global environment and promote sustainable livelihoods in local communities, including water conservation projects.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Global Development Program leadership team oversees the foundation's work in developing countries on agricultural development, financial services for the poor and emergency relief.

The Georg Fischer Bicentenary Foundation, Switzerland

With its Clean Water Foundation, Georg Fischer has been involved since 2002 in projects to improve water supplying developing countries and disaster areas. Since then, GF has donated over CHF 5 million to the Foundation and has thus funded the implementation of more than 70 projects in 40 countries n four continents.

The Skoll Foundation, USA

The Skoll Foundation drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems.

NGOs and Research Institutes:

There are also several international and national level institutions and research organisations that undertake water conservation projects in partnership with NGOs, such as:


WaterAid is an international charity working on issues related to water and sanitation. It also promotes networks among government, NGOs and community groups.

International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

IWMI is an international organisation, which works along with their partner organisations and NGOs different water related issues.

Action for Food Production (AFPRO)

AFPRO is a socio-technical development NGO working to reduce rural poverty in India, with core competencies in land and water management among others. It provides technical guidance and back-up support to grassroots-level NGOs in implementing its mandate related projects.


External funding is often needed for the implementation of projects, especially in the case of the water and sanitation sector, where a mix of financial mechanisms is needed to cover the software and hardware components involved in a project.


  • Some funding programmes allow running new and original projects, supporting innovation and creativity
  • External funding is an important source of additional resources to help you achieve the objectives of your project


  • Funding is usually for specific projects or work programmes which have to fit the funder's specific criteria
  • Current funding flows are inadequate to meet the global need in the water and sanitation sector; it can be hard to get funding. Therefore, a lot of care should be taken in preparing the proposal and the budget
  • There is a considerable funding gap between needs and allocations in most countries

References Library

SONI, P. (2005): Solution Exchange for WES-NET India. WES-NET India -Water & Environmental Sanitation Network. URL [Accessed: 16.05.2010].

PHILIP, R.; ANTON, B.; BONJEAN, M.; BROMLEY, J.; COX, D.; SMITS, S.; SULLIVAN, C. A.; NIEKERK, K. van; CHONGUICA, E.; MONGGAE, F.; NYAGWAMBO, L.; PULE, R.; BERRAONDO LOEPEZ, M. (2008): Local Government and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Part III: Engaging in IWRM – Practical Steps and Tools for Local Governments. Freiburg: ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 17.04.2012].

TRÈMOLET, S.; PEREZ, E. ; KOSLKY, P. (2007): WSP Sanitation Financing Study. (= Methodological Note). URL [Accessed: 25.08.2010].

TOONPOOL (Editor) (2009): Cavemen Evolution Fund. GmbH. URL [Accessed: 23.12.2011].

WSP (Editor) (2004): Calendar 2004 July. Washington, DC: Water and Sanitation Program (WSP). URL [Accessed: 23.12.2011].

Further Readings Library

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NWP (Editor) (2009): Smart Finance Solutions. Examples of innovative financial mechanisms for water and sanitation. (= Smart water solutions). Amsterdam: KIT Publishers. URL [Accessed: 25.08.2010].

This booklet on Smart Finance Solutions gives examples of how various existing financial mechanisms and products are used to finance water and sanitation projects and support small local businesses.

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PHILIP, R.; ANTON, B.; BONJEAN, M.; BROMLEY, J.; COX, D.; SMITS, S.; SULLIVAN, C. A.; NIEKERK, K. van; CHONGUICA, E.; MONGGAE, F.; NYAGWAMBO, L.; PULE, R.; BERRAONDO LOEPEZ, M. (2008): Local Government and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Part III: Engaging in IWRM – Practical Steps and Tools for Local Governments. Freiburg: ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 17.04.2012].

The set of materials entitled “Local Government and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)” aims to assist Local Governments with active participation in IWRM. The materials are primarily targeted at local government officials, but are considered equally useful for individuals and organisations that work with local governments in the management of water resources.

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TRÈMOLET, S.; PEREZ, E. ; KOSLKY, P. (2007): WSP Sanitation Financing Study. (= Methodological Note). URL [Accessed: 25.08.2010].

The study focuses on how increased access to sanitation infrastructure can be financed, with a mix of user finance and subsidies.

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NORMAN, G.; PARKER, S.; WSUP (Editor) (2011): Business models for delegated management of local water services: experience from Naivasha (Kenya). (= Topic Brief, 2). London: Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP). URL [Accessed: 03.03.2011].

This Topic Brief describes a business model for delegated management of local water services, recently developed with WSUP support in the Kenyan Rift Valley town of Naivasha. This business model is designed to ensure affordable but high-quality services for consumers, profitability for the operators, and sufficient revenues for sustainable asset maintenance.

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MADER, P. (2011): Attempting the Production of Public Goods Throuh Microfinance: The Case of Water and Sanitation. Cologne: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies. URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

This paper evaluates the attempt to create public goods via microfinance loans. Microfinance loans in the production of goods with public goods characteristics signify an emergent micro-privatization. As a case study, the production of water and sanitation resources via microfinance loans is examined in India and Vietnam.

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AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (2011): Guidelines for User Fees and Cost Recovery for Rural Non Networked Water and Sanitation Delivery. Tunis : The African Development Bank. URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

These guidelines have been prepared to assist member countries and investors working in project formulation and appraisal, sector and policy analysis in the water supply, sanitation, irrigation and related agricultural projects. The guidelines acknowledge the widely held view that water is both a social and economic good and have been designed to assist all stakeholders in the implementation of sustainable services which support all consumers and users of water.

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EUWI FWG (2011): Financing for Water and Sanitation. A Primer for Practitioners and Students in Developing Countries. Stockholm: EU Water Initiative Finance Working Group (EUWI FWG). URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

This guide is for practitioners in developing countries – politicians, officials, professionals, private business people, members of civil society organizations and laypersons – involved in different ways in providing the infrastructure and services for water and sanitation. It is also aimed at students needing a compact introduction to this topic.

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TREMOLET, S.; EVANS, B.E.; SHAUB-JONES, D. (2010): Output-based Aid for Sustainable Sanitation. (= OBA Working Paper, 10). Washington DC: The World Bank. URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

This paper is a review of the experience to date in applying output-based and other results-oriented financing aid formats to the delivery of sanitation services and goods in developing countries. The paper looks at the theoretical underpinnings which justify output-based subsidies in sanitation, reviews a selection of output-based aid projects and then proposes some new approaches which could help to make financing in sanitation more effective and accountable.

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OECD (Editor) (2010): Innovative Financing Mechanisms for the Water Sector. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). URL [Accessed: 26.10.2011].

This report examines innovative financing mechanisms that can help attract new financial resources into water and sanitation services. A particular focus is placed on mobilising market-based repayable financing (such as loans, bonds and equity) as a way of bridging the financial gap to meet the Millennium Development Goals and other crucial sector objectives.

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POTTER, A.; KLUTSE, A.; SNEHALATHA, M.; BATCHELOR, C.; UANDELA, A.; NAAFS, A.; FONSECA, C.; MORIARTY, P. (2011): Assessing Sanitation Service Levels. (= Wash Cost Working Paper, 3). Delft: International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC). URL [Accessed: 07.11.2011].

The purpose of this working paper is to set out sanitation service levels to be applied as an analytical tool for WASH-Cost research on the disaggregated unit costs of water, sanitation and hygiene services. It should be read together with Working Paper 2: "Ladders for assessing and costing water service delivery", which introduces the concept of service levels, service level indicators and the use of ladders as a metaphor and a means to differentiate between broad levels of service. Both are working documents of the WASHCost team, aimed at providing a framework for data analysis to be used and tested by WASH-Cost.

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FONSECA, C.; DUBE, A.; VERHOEVEN, J. (2011): Cost-based Decision Support Tools for Water and Sanitation. (= Wash Cost Working Paper, 4). The Hague: International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC). URL [Accessed: 07.11.2011].

This working paper provides an overview of Decision Support Tools (DSTs) using disaggregated costs in the water and sanitation sector. The DSTs have been developed by international organisations for planning and budgeting interventions in low income settings. It highlights the disaggregated costs used for each tool and makes recommendations for matching them to practitioners’ needs and capacities.

Case Studies Library

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USAID HIP (Editor); WSP (Editor) (2010): Peru Case Studies in Sanitation Microfinance. (= Research Brief). Washington DC: Water and Sanitation Program (WSP). URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

This brief examines two promising project activities in the micro-finance sector under the Creating Sanitation Market Initiative (CSMI), a multi-stakeholder initiative led by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank in Peru: 1) in Cusco, activities with the Caja Municipal de Ahorro y Crédito del Cusco (CMAC Cusco) a Municipal Savings and Loan Fund owned by the municipal government of Cusco; and 2) in Cajamarca, activities to establish Village Banks that administer loans for household sanitation improvements. The brief was prepared with support from the USAID-funded Hygiene Improvement Project, a CSMI partner.

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WSUP (Editor) (2011): Financing Communal Toilets: the Tchemulane Project in Maputo. (= Practice Note, 2). London: Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP). URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

This report examines the financing of communal toilets in Maputo, Mozambique and argues that in high density, low income communities, communal toilets serving small groups of families can be an effective sanitation solution. The big challenge is to achieve regular payment from users, and effective community management of this revenue.

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BANERJEE, S.; FOSTER, V.; YING, Y.; SKILLING, H.; WODON, Q. (2010): Cost Recovery, Equity, and Efficiency in Water Tariffs. Evidence from African Utilities. Washington DC: The World Bank. URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

For many households, standposts managed by utilities, donors, or private operators have emerged as an alternative to piped water. Those managed by utilities or that supply utility water are expected to use the formal utility tariffs, which are kept low to make water affordable for low-income households. The price for water that is resold through informal channels, however, is much more expensive than piped water.

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DEVOTO, F.; DUFLO, E.; DUPAS, P.; PARIENTE, W.; PONS, V; IRES (Editor) (2011): Happiness on Tap: Piped Water Adoption in Urban Morocco. (= Discussion Paper, 13). Louvain-la-Neuve: Institute des Recherches Économiques et Sociales de l'Université Catholique de Louvain (IRES). URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

This report discusses the demand for household water connections in urban Morocco, and the effect of such connections on household welfare.

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KLUTSE, A.; BOURAIMA, Z.; AMEGNRAN, C. (2010): Sanitation Costs Analysis in Burkina Faso. (= IRC Symposium Pumps, Pipes and Promises). Ouagadougou : URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

This report compares the capital expenditure and the operational and maintenance expenditure for sanitation facilities in rural and peri-urban areas in Burkina Faso. It presents the magnitude of the relative cost of different types of sanitation infrastructures such as the VIP toilet, the Ecosan urine diverting toilet, the pour-flush toilet and the traditional pit latrine.

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TREMOLET, S.; KOLSKY, P.; PEREZ, E.; WSP (Editor); THE WORLD BANK (Editor) (2010): Financing On-Site Sanitation for the Poor. A Six Country Comparative Review and Analysis. (= Technical Paper). Washington DC: and Sanitation Program (WSP) and The World Bank. URL [Accessed: 15.06.2011].

This research seeks to identify the best performing approaches and the relevant factors and issues to consider in designing a sanitation financing strategy. The report offers guidance to sector professionals developing on-site sanitation projects and programs, which play a leading role in providing access to sanitation. The study compares alternative financing approaches based on a set of common indicators, including in terms of the effectiveness in the use of public funds and targeting.

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BUTTERWORTH, J.; SUTTON, S.; MEKONTA, L. (2013): Self-Supply as a Complementary Water Services Delivery Model in Ethiopia. In: Water Alternatives 6, 405-423. France: Water Alternatives Association. URL [Accessed: 11.10.2013].

Self-supply, where households invest to develop their own easily-accessible water supplies, is identified as an alternative service delivery model that is potentially complementary to more highly subsidised community-level provision. The approach is widespread in Ethiopia with family wells bringing additional benefits that are in line with wider government objectives, such as supporting small-scale irrigation. However, two recent studies show the current performance of traditional or family wells to be far below potential with most sources providing unsafe water in the absence of adequate protection.

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FOGELBERG, K. (2013): From Adopt-a-Project to Permanent Services. The evolution of Water For People’s Approach to Rural Water Supply in Bolivia. In: Water Alternatives 6, 367-383. France: Water Alternatives Association. URL [Accessed: 11.10.2013].

The dominant paradigm in rural water provision in Bolivia has focused on the provision of infrastructure, whether by government agencies or international cooperation groups. However, the investment in infrastructure has led neither to universal access for all Bolivians nor to consistently high levels of services for those who do have access to a water system. This paper will describe the transition of one international non-profit organisation, Water For People, from supporting dispersed water projects throughout the country towards targeted support of water services at the municipal level, aiming to support permanent universal services.

Awareness Raising Material Library

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HERRERO, S.; INPROGRESS (Editor) (2011): How to Obtain European Commission Funding. 10 Key Questions and Answers. A Guide for NGOs Working in Developing Countries. Berlin: inProgress. URL [Accessed: 22.04.2012].

This short Q & A guide presents in a simple way, by highlightning the most important questions to consider, how you can find out if there are untapped opportunities and funds offered by the European Commission (EC) for an NGO working in developing countries.

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UNEP (Editor); WHO (Editor); UN-HABITAT (Editor); WSSCC (Editor) (2003): 10 Keys for Local and National Action . The Hague: United Nations Environment Programme Global Programme of Action (UNEP/GPA), Coordination Office. URL [Accessed: 04.10.2011].

Ten key points that are prerequisite for successful municipal wastewater management. They cover policy issues, management approaches, technology selection and financing mechanisms.

Important Weblinks [Accessed: 15.06.2011]

Kiva works with microfinance institutions on five continents to provide loans to people without access to traditional banking systems. [Accessed: 15.06.2011]

WaterCredit is an initiative of that puts microfinance tools to use in the water and sanitation (WASH) sector. It is the only comprehensive, multi-country program of its kind that connects the microfinance and WASH communities to scale up access to credit and capital for individual- and household-based water and sanitation needs. [Accessed: 15.06.2011]

WASHCost, a five-year initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is focused on exploring and sharing an understanding of the true costs of sustainable services. Since 2008, WASHCost has developed new methodologies to better understand and use the costs of providing water, sanitation and hygiene services to rural and peri-urban communities in Ghana, Burkina-Faso, Mozambique and India (Andhra Pradesh). [Accessed: 15.06.2011]

The Water Finance Website is a resource to help design a financing component for USAID programs that are intended to respond to the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005. The website will also be useful to development professionals outside of USAID who are promoting pro-poor water and sanitation services worldwide. [Accessed: 15.06.2011]

This blog contains news related to the financing of water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in developing countries, collected by Cor Dietvorst, the editor of SOURCE Weekly.