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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Investing in national and local capacity for water and sanitation supports global initiatives aimed at accelerating decent jobs creation, enhancing social protection, and promoting social justice.

United Nations / Multilateral body

    Access to safe water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. Meeting this need directly impacts health and well-being, which in turn affects people’s ability to engage in productive activities. The ILO supports global goals, such as SDG 6 and 8, and collaborates with the United Nations to “deliver as one” through its decent work agenda embedded in the SDG targets. The ILO works with its tripartite constituents on water and sanitation issues, identifying and implementing investment priorities to create decent job opportunities while ensuring safe water access for communities. The ILO's Employment Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) assists member States in addressing unemployment and underemployment through public investment, typically in infrastructure development. By adopting an employment-focused approach, the programme builds capacities to implement inclusive water and sanitation infrastructure that has positive  economic, social and environmental impacts.

    The following are examples of water and sanitation projects implemented in various countries where the programme provides technical support: 1) In Nargis, Myanmar, a post-crisis emergency response was implemented to support livelihood recovery. This involved a combination of access-improvement infrastructures and sanitation facilities in cyclone-affected areas.  2) In Gonaives, Haiti, watershed management initiatives were undertaken to support environmental protection while providing income support to vulnerable communities. These efforts aimed to build resilience against extreme weather events. 3) In Philippines, a post-crisis response focused on providing income support with an environmental objective. This included rehabilitating water facilities and implementing watershed management in affected communities, including livelihood development for indigenous tribal peoples. 4) In Jordan, adaptation works and peacebuilding initiatives were carries out through the construction of green community assets. 5) In Sudan, a special public works programme in the water sector addressed the adverse effects of drought in agricultural areas. 6) In Kebribeyah and Jigjiga (Ethiopia), socio-economic recovery efforts were directed towards flood-affected communities. Flood protection and  mitigation measures, along with water and sanitation interventions, were implemented through infrastructure projects. 7) In Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay, support was provided to improve local capacity for planning, building and managing water resources, particularly with indigenous and rural communities. 

    These interventions successfully demonstrated the use of local resource-based approaches to optimize job creation content while enhancing community assets, protecting the environment and promoting gender equality and social inclusion. 

     The Water Action Agenda aims to address the global water crisis, accelerating progress during the second-half of the Water Action Decade (2018-2028) and second half of the 2030 Agenda. ILO’s contributions across the water domain underscore the need to scale up implementation and foster global discourse, supporting concerted action towards achieving SDG 6 &8. As such, the ILO commits to investing more in improving national and local capacities for sustainable public investments in water, contributing to job acceleration, social protection, and social justice.               

    Expected Impact

    The initiatives and interventions of the ILO through the EIIP will: 1. Improve national and local capacities to implement public investments in the water and sanitation sector while maximizing job creation outcomes and application of normative principles to promote decent work agenda and advance social justice. 2. Promote an enabling environment to support employment-intensive reforms 3. Develop indicators to promote gender equality and social inclusion in water infrastructure development 4. Promote greater knowledge-sharing through research and identification of challenges to decent work and public investments in the water domain 5. Pursue partnerships with the UN System, IFIs, regional partners and other like-minded institutions to maximize the synergy of benefits and impacts


    IFIs, UN agencies, Development partners


    Goal 6

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    Goal 6


    By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all


    Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services


    By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations


    Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water


    By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally


    Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated


    Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality


    By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

    Change in water-use efficiency over time


    Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources


    By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate


    Degree of integrated water resources management 


    Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation


    By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

    Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time


    By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

    Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan


    Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


    Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

    Goal 8

    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

    Goal 8


    Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries

    Annual growth rate of real GDP per capita


    Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors


    Annual growth rate of real GDP per employed person


    Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services


    Proportion of informal employment in total employment, by sector and sex


    Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead


    Material footprint, material footprint per capita, and material footprint per GDP


    Domestic material consumption, domestic material consumption per capita, and domestic material consumption per GDP


    By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value

    Average hourly earnings of female and male employees, by occupation, age and persons with disabilities


    Unemployment rate, by sex, age and persons with disabilities


    By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training

    Proportion of youth (aged 15-24 years) not in education, employment or training


    Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms


    Proportion and number of children aged 5‑17 years engaged in child labour, by sex and age


    Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment


    Fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 workers, by sex and migrant status


    Level of national compliance with labour rights (freedom of association and collective bargaining) based on International Labour Organization (ILO) textual sources and national legislation, by sex and migrant status


    By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products


    Tourism direct GDP as a proportion of total GDP and in growth rate


    Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all


    (a) Number of commercial bank branches per 100,000 adults and (b) number of automated teller machines (ATMs) per 100,000 adults


    Proportion of adults (15 years and older) with an account at a bank or other financial institution or with a mobile-money-service provider


    Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries

    Aid for Trade commitments and disbursements


    By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization


    Existence of a developed and operationalized national strategy for youth employment, as a distinct strategy or as part of a national employment strategy

    • Enhancing national and local capacities for implementing public investments in water and sanitation sectors, with a dual focus on optimizing job creation outcomes and adhering to normative principles that advance the decent work agenda and promote social justice. 
    • Establishing strategic partnerships with the UN System, IFIs, regional partners and other like-minded institutions to maximize the synergistic benefits and overall impacts. 
    • Promoting an enabling environment that support reforms in the water and sanitation domain. 
    • Measuring impact (developing indicators) and gender equality in water supply.   
    • Facilitating knowledge-sharing by conducting research and identifying challenges related to decent work and public investments in water sector across  Asia, Africa, and Arab States. 
    Staff / Technical expertise
    The ILO staff provides technical support
    Action Network
    water logo
    03 January 2022 (start date)
    31 December 2030 (date of completion)
    1. Africa
    2. Asia and Pacific
    3. Latin America and the Caribbean
    Other beneficiaries

    National and Local Authorities, Community-based Organizations, Private Contractors Trade Unions, and Employers Organizations

    Website/More information
    Contact Information

    Martha Mildred, Technical Officer