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IIC - IBFC Transforming India's WASH Sector Through Blended Finance

India's ambitious goals for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are critical for its development. The government has launched significant initiatives like the Swachh Bharat Mission and the Jal Jeevan Mission, aiming to provide safe drinking water and sanitation to rural households. Despite these efforts, only 71.51% of rural households had tap water by the end of 2023, highlighting the need for further investment and infrastructure development.

India faces severe water scarcity and sanitation challenges, compounded by climate change. The country needs substantial investments, estimated at $2.64 trillion by 2030, to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 6, which focuses on clean water and sanitation. However, the private sector's involvement in WASH financing is limited due to perceived risks and operational complexities.

Several untapped subsectors within the WASH value chain offer significant opportunities:

  1. Desludging Vehicles: Essential for faecal sludge management in small towns.

  2. Industrial Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP): Customized solutions for industries with strong regulatory frameworks.

  3. Reuse of Treated Wastewater: Growing importance due to water scarcity, with potential for urban water security solutions.

The WASH sector faces numerous challenges that hinder private investment:

  • Limited Commercial Models: Water being a public good limits viable business models with commercial revenue.

  • High Reliance on Public Infrastructure: Heavy dependence on state actors and public infrastructure complicates private sector involvement.

  • Impact Measurement: Lack of standardized frameworks for measuring the impact of WASH projects.

  • Operational Complexities: Challenges in deploying non-commercial private capital at scale.

Blended finance, combining public and private capital, is crucial for scaling WASH solutions. This approach leverages different types of funding to address financial and operational challenges. For example, the Impact Investors Council (IIC) facilitated discussions among key stakeholders to explore the potential of blended finance in the WASH sector, supported by USAID and

To effectively mobilize private capital for WASH, several strategies are recommended:

  1. Develop Commercially Viable Models: Create business models that demonstrate growth potential and sustainability.

  2. Standardize Impact Measurement: Implement comprehensive frameworks that go beyond numerical metrics to attract impact investors.

  3. Lifecycle Financing: Design financing structures aligned with the growth stages of enterprises.

  4. Differentiated Urban and Rural Strategies: Tailor WASH solutions to the economic and demographic characteristics of target groups.

  5. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs): Foster collaborations between government, private sector, and civil society to enhance service delivery and sustainability.

Case Studies

  • Citywide Desludging in Wai & Sinnar: Implemented a pay-for-results model linked to the number of septic tanks desludged, funded through a sanitation tax.

  • SUVIDHA Urban Hygiene Center: A CSR-funded project providing comprehensive WASH facilities in Mumbai, demonstrating the impact of public-private-community partnerships.

  • WaterCredit by Enabled affordable financing for WASH assets through technical and financial support to local financial institutions.

Blended finance offers a promising pathway to address India's WASH challenges. By integrating various funding sources and aligning with climate-focused investments, stakeholders can create scalable and sustainable solutions. Collaboration across sectors and innovative financial mechanisms are essential to achieving the goals of clean water and sanitation for all.

For more detailed insights and case studies, refer to the comprehensive white paper by the Impact Investors Council.

This blog is based on "Maximising Impact: Blended Finance for WASH in India," supported by IBFC, USAID,, and other partners.

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