The commitments made to water and sanitation at the Gleneagles Summit were not as robust as commitments made to other sectors. In the Gleneagles Communiqué, the G8 committed to increasing aid to the sector and referenced a 2003 pledge to prioritise water and sanitation as part of their overall ODA allocation. Interpreting these commitments, while attempting to honour the original intent of the G8's pledges, led DATA to determine that, at a minimum, the proportion of development assistance dedicated to water and sanitation should be held constant as overall development assistance increases. Because sub-Saharan Africa has the world's lowest rates of access to improved water and sanitation, the region should receive at least the same proportion of ODA that is given to water and sanitation globally. Water and sanitation comprised 5.5% of global ODA from 1990 to 2005, a level that DATA has chosen as a target to measure progress towards the G8 commitment in this report.
As a whole, the G8 are off track in keeping this commitment. In 2006 (the most recent year for which data are available), they directed 3.83% of their total ODA to sub-Saharan Africa towards the sector. While two G8 countries (Germany and the UK) came close to directing a 5.5% share, three were slightly off track (France, Italy and Japan) and the remaining two (the US and Canada) were far off track.
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Prioritisation of Africa as a region was also disappointing: although Africa is furthest from reaching the MDG targets on water and sanitation, in 2006 only 27% of the G8's overall funding for the sector went to the continent. Although countries like the US and Japan are among the largest donors to water and sanitation globally, thus far they have failed to extend their expertise to Africa and continue to designate extremely small shares to the region. To get on track, the G8 need to scale up development assistance for the water and sanitation sector to 5.5% of ODA and prioritise Africa in the global allocation of water and sanitation financing.