Assessing DFID’s results in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

UK aid has reached 62.9 million people with water, sanitation and hygiene interventions over five years, but must do more to ensure these improvements are sustainable.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 24 May 2016
  3. Type: Impact review
  4. Subject: Global health
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Mozambique, Zimbabwe
  7. Lead commissioner: Richard Gledhill
  8. SDGs covered:Good health and wellbeing, Quality education, Gender equality, Clean water and sanitation

Read the review


Our review assessing the Department for International Development’s (DFID) results in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) found relatively good achievement on impact and results management, but weaker performance on sustainability. We awarded a green-amber score and made four recommendations.


Our review concluded that UK aid has made a significant contribution to improving WASH access in low-income countries, and that its claim of reaching 62.9 million people is based on sound evidence.

However, the review highlighted sustainability as an area of particular concern, with not enough being done to ensure that improved WASH access was becoming a permanent part of people’s lives. It concluded that DFID needs to do more to address long-term problems like water security, maintenance of infrastructure, strengthening local institutions so they can manage services, and changing behaviour.

It also found improvements are needed to ensure value for money – with a stronger focus on lifetime investment costs – and to target vulnerable people as well as hard-to-reach communities, in line with the Global Goals commitment to ‘leave no one behind’.


  1. DFID should improve the measurement and reporting of the development impact of its WASH programmes, particularly for vulnerable groups.
  2. DFID should embed sustainability in its WASH programming and measure how well this is implemented.
  3. DFID should act quickly on the results of its value for money research to develop a suitable framework for measuring value and guiding programming choices.
  4. DFID should improve how learning on WASH (including from its research programmes) is shared throughout the organisation.


Read the news story



Published 9 October 2015

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 24 May 2016

Government response

Published 15 June 2016

Parliamentary scrutiny

IDC hearing 29 June 2016

ICAI follow-up

Published 21 June 2017