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Maximising Impact: The Balancing Act of Public and Private Finance




Bridging the funding gap for water and sanitation projects requires a strategic approach that leverages both public and private finance. In this blog post, we will explore the concepts of crowding in and crowding out in the context of water and sanitation projects and discuss the importance of designed blended finance in maximizing impact.


Crowding In: Public and Concessional Finance

Public and concessional finance plays a crucial role in supporting the water and sanitation sector, aiming to address various challenges and create an enabling environment for private sector involvement. Here are key objectives that public and concessional finance should target:

  1. Upstream Project Development: Public finance should be directed towards early-stage project development, facilitating feasibility studies, environmental impact assessments, and other pre-investment activities. This helps create a pipeline of well-structured projects attractive to private investors.

  2. Correcting Market Failure: Public and concessional finance can fill gaps where market forces alone are insufficient. By subsidizing projects in underserved areas or those with high implementation costs, governments can correct market failures and promote equitable access to water and sanitation services.

  3. Stimulating Commercial Finance: Public funding should act as a catalyst, attracting commercial finance by de-risking investments and making projects more financially attractive. By providing initial support, public finance can pave the way for private investors to participate in sustainable water and sanitation ventures.

  4. Loan Guarantee/Reducing Risk: Governments can use loan guarantees or risk reduction mechanisms to instill confidence in private investors. By sharing risks, public finance encourages private sector involvement, particularly in projects with uncertain returns.

Crowding Out: Private Finance

Private finance is essential for scaling up water and sanitation initiatives, particularly for commercially viable projects. Here are the primary roles private finance should play:

  1. Supporting Commercially Viable Initiatives: Private finance should focus on economically sustainable water and sanitation projects. By investing in initiatives with viable business models, the private sector contributes to the long-term success and sustainability of these ventures.

  2. Providing Liquidity for Loans: Private investors can infuse liquidity into the sector by providing loans or equity investments. This financial support ensures that projects have the necessary capital for implementation and operation.

  3. Bringing Innovative Finance Products: The private sector is known for its innovation. By introducing new financial instruments, such as impact bonds or pay-for-performance models, private finance can offer creative solutions to address specific challenges in the water and sanitation sector.

  4. Bringing Technical Skills: Beyond financial contributions, private investors often bring technical expertise and innovation. This can lead to the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and management practices, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of water and sanitation projects.


Designed Blended Finance: Maximising Impact

The most effective approach to mobilizing resources for water and sanitation projects involves a blend of public and private finance. Designed blended finance integrates the strengths of both sectors, creating a synergy that maximizes impact. Blended finance models can combine concessional funding for project development and risk reduction with private finance for implementation and operation.


By strategically aligning public and private interests, designed blended finance ensures that water and sanitation projects not only attract the necessary capital but also achieve long-term sustainability. This collaborative approach leverages the strengths of each sector, addressing market failures, mitigating risks, and fostering innovation. Ultimately, designed blended finance is a powerful tool for achieving universal access to clean water and sanitation, creating a positive impact on communities worldwide.

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