of long-term sustainability for the international water, sanitation and health (WASH) sector

What is it?

The Water for Life rating is an independent certification of long-term sustainability for the international water, sanitation and health (WASH) sector. The overarching aim of the rating system is to allow individual and institutional donors to target their funding toward the most successful WASH programs by providing them with independent assessments based on actual project results. In this way, the Water for Life rating system will also create an incentive for organizations to conduct routine monitoring and evaluation of their own projects, encourage strong program implementation and provide an opportunity for implementing organizations to demonstrate that they are delivering on promises.

Why is it needed?

Poor people need water:
Between 780 million and 4 billion people lack access to safe drinking water (depending on the criteria used to define “access to” and “safe”)

Aid is being wasted on projects that fail:
$10-20 billion in aid is spent annually on water projects for the world’s poorest, yet, 35-50% of water and sanitation projects fail within a few years of implementation.

Project success rates are not improving:
The water and sanitation sector has been quoting these same statistics and challenges for the past 30 years. Intellectually, organizations understand the need for better follow-up, but other activities – like fundraising – take priority.

Organizations are not investing in their own learning:
Less than 5% of water projects are visited post-construction and less than 1% receive any long-term monitoring.

Who Benefits?

People lacking access to water & sanitation: Will have projects that last. Increased accountability and better targeted investments will ultimately result in more effective and sustainable programming for poor communities.

Donors: Will be able to use project sustainability ratings to target their funds towards high performing organizations.

Implementing organizations: Can learn from each other and be rewarded for facilitating sustainable WASH services.


To date, three Water for Life Ratings have been conducted in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Bangladesh. You can download the full report provided by the independent evaluators below (for organizations that have released their evaluations to the public):

COCEPRADIL (December 2011)
El Porvenir (May 2014)
> DSK (December 2014)