Water Resources Management: Sector Results Profile
Managing Water Resources in a Changing Climate
April 15, 2013
Water is one of the most basic human needs. With impacts on agriculture, education, energy, health, gender equity, and livelihood, water management underlies the most basic development challenges. Water is under unprecedented pressures as growing populations and economies demand more of it. Groundwater is being depleted faster than it is being replenished and worsening water quality degrades the environment and adds to costs. Access to safe sanitation and water is still out of reach for 2.5 billion and 780 million people, respectively, leading to thousands of lives lost daily and billions of dollars in economic losses annually, up to 7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in some countries. These statistics are expected to worsen because of climate change.
There is ample evidence that climate change will increase hydrologic variability, resulting in extreme weather events such as droughts floods, and major storms. It will continue to have a profound impact on economies, health, lives, and livelihoods. The poorest people will suffer most and are the least prepared.
Within this changing physical and socio-economic landscape, water practices of the past are no longer adequate. Countries cannot grow, nor can the world meet longer-term sustainability goals, or strengthen resilience to climate change without smart water management that takes into account decreasing water availability, quality and allocation.
Global water challenges include:
- Food is by far the largest user of water, accounting for almost 70 percent of global withdrawals, 90 percent of global consumptive water use, and up to 95 percent of the withdrawals in developing countries. By 2050, feeding a planet of 9 billion people will require a doubling of current water inputs to agriculture.
- Over the next 20 years, cities in developing countries will double and so will their demand for water-intensive energy, such as for fuel extraction, cooling water, and hydropower.
- In the past 30 years, economic losses from natural disasters have nearly tripled. Low-income and middle-income countries alone mourned 2.3 million people and suffered a loss of US$1.2 trillion due to damage.
- Extreme weather due to the Earth’s changing climate will worsen the situation by increasing water stress. Experts estimate that by 2080, 43 to 50 percent of the global population will be living in water-scarce countries, compared to 28 percent today. A new World Bank report suggests that in a 4°Celsius warmer world, water stress will increase in areas around the world. The roughly 1 billion people living in monsoonal basins and the 500 million people living in deltas are especially vulnerable.
- At least 2.5 billion and 780 million people remain without access to sanitation and safe water, respectively. With projections of potential decreases in water availability, these statistics could worsen.
The World Bank is uniquely positioned to play a key role by working across sectors, countries and with institutions and diverse stakeholders to help countries build resilience to climate change through water resources management. The Bank is one of the key providers of knowledge and technical assistance on water. It is the largest multilateral donor for water development with a water portfolio accounting for 15 percent of its overall portfolio. Currently, it is defining a strategic vision for water that builds on the directions outlined in the World Bank 2003 Water Strategy and its 2010 mid-cycle review.
On-the-ground results related to activities financed through the International Development Association (IDA) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) include the following critical areas:
Policy and legal framework: A large proportion of World Bank-funded water resources management projects include institutional and/or policy components. In Tanzania, for example, IDA funding supported the development of a National Water Policy, which was adopted by the Cabinet in 2002 and which subsequently formed the basis for a National Water Sector Development Strategy. A follow up project helped the country prepare integrated river and lake basin management and development plans, including the sustainable exploitation of a recently discovered deep aquifer with potential to supply Dar es Salaam. In Morocco, the IBRD-financed Water Sector Development Policy Loan (US$100 million) in 2007 supported comprehensive water reform to address legislative, financing and planning gaps in the water sector. This work led to a reform program in which water-demand management, conservation and resource management became new thrusts in Morocco’s water strategy.
Institutions and capacity building: Institutions in water resources management span the range of local, basin, national and international levels. With the support of IBRD, Colombia (US$800 million total) introduced a number of reforms for improved environmental management, including water resources. The government approved a national policy for water, and created a Water Resources Group in the Ministry of Environment, Housing, and Territorial Development. This is the first centralized group responsible for planning and budgeting activities related to water resources management in the country. At least 25 municipalities adopted watershed management plans in areas of water scarcity in order to manage and monitor valuable national resources better. In Yemen, the IDA-financed Sana’a Basin Water Management Project (2003-2010, US$24 million) was the first initiative in the country to address the crisis in groundwater depletion by reducing agricultural groundwater use of about 4,000 hectares (ha) of irrigated area and increasing groundwater recharge, which saved more than 15 million cubic meters of water annually extracted from the local aquifer.
Hydropower: Hydropower is currently the world's largest source of affordable renewable low-carbon energy and offers a hedge against energy price fluctuations. The IBRD-funded Vietnam Trung Son Hydropower Project (US$330 million) approved in FY11 aims to supply least-cost electric power in a safe and environmentally sustainable way. At completion, the project is expected to produce an average of 1,019 gigawatt hour (GWh) of electricity a year, help control annual flooding in the river valley downstream, and supplement water supplies for agricultural use during the dry season. In FY10, IDA contributed US$85 million in additional financing for the Felou Hydroelectric Project (WAPP) in Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea and Mali as a means of increasing access to stable, reliable, and affordable electricity to the citizens of the Economic Community of West African States. The project will augment the supply of low cost hydroelectricity by generating an additional 60 megawatt and make available 95 percent of the power generated.
Agriculture and Food Security: In many low-income countries, agriculture employs the largest share of people and is therefore a critical sector for achieving targets for global poverty reduction. The On-Farm Irrigation Project in the Kyrgyz Republic (2000-2013, US$20 million) was designed to increase crop production through reliable and sustainable water distribution in formerly state and collective farms across seven administrative regions. A core activity has been strengthening services to about 450 water users associations, including training and support. Over 50,000 people were trained, and approximately 450 user associations, with 166,000 members, were formally registered to manage irrigation areas covering 710,000 hectares, or about 70 percent of the country's irrigated land. The IBRD-funded Peru Irrigation Subsector Project (FY97, US$85 million) raised agricultural production and productivity by enhancing the sustainability and efficiency of existing public irrigation systems. As a result of the project, water conveyance efficiency increased on average about 55-68 percent in improved irrigation systems and about 190,000 new water rights were formalized. The project benefitted 135,000 farm families over a total irrigated area of 435,000 hectares, created 6,400 new jobs, and generally increased agricultural productivity. Yields per hectare (ha) were raised by 20-50 percent in on-farm improvement areas.
Flood Protection and Environmental and Social Benefits: The Bank follows an integrated flood management agenda which includes well-functioning early warning systems, infrastructure, and institutional arrangements for coordinated action to address increased variability and changes to runoff and flooding patterns. In Yemen, IDA financing (US$80 million total) provided vital flood control structures in and around the city of Taiz. By the project's closing in 2008, major parts of Taiz had been transformed into livable and flash flood-secure neighborhoods. The project contributed to an increase in land values of more than 100 percent and a reduction in damages to residential properties and businesses from 160 and 660 per year to zero. Flood structure and complementary wastewater connections helped to improve health and sanitary conditions by reducing the flow of wastewater into wadis (riverbeds), which had become breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. In Morocco, as a result of safeguard diagnostic reviews and environmental and social assessments conducted under the Oum Er Rbia Sanitation Project, there is now increased transparency and better public participation and consultation in addressing environmental and social safeguards around water sector projects in the country. In China, the Hai Basin Integrated Water and Environment Management Project, completed in 2011, promoted an integrated approach to water resource management and pollution control and contributed to the restoration and protection of marine environments, ecosystems, and biodiversity in the Bohai Sea. It was implemented in 16 counties in northern China, benefitting over 20 million people. Better water use and pollution control in the Basin has improved resident health and living standards. Farmers also benefited from more efficient consumption-based irrigation management, which increased water productivity, crop yields, and incomes.
Trans-boundary River Management: With 263 international rivers in the world, supporting their cooperative management is an important contribution for fostering gains from water resources use and thus contributing to poverty alleviation. The Bank supports the joint management of transboundary watercourses in various ways, especially in Africa. In the Senegal River Basin, IDA-financed projects have contributed to more effective management of the resources of the Senegal River and to the inclusion of Guinea into the organization responsible for this management, allowing integrated water resources management in the entire basin. In the Mekong River Basin, the Bank is supporting riparian states such as Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in strengthening their integrated water resource management and disaster risk management capacities, cooperating closely with the Mekong River Commission that cooperatively manages the basin.
Management Across Sectors: Frequently, water resources management projects involve more than one sector and combine investment initiatives entailing both institutional development and capacity-building. To integrate water management into country programs and development plans, the World Bank has prepared Country Water Resource Assistance Strategies (CWRAS). The India and Pakistan CRWASs laid the groundwork for major increases in water lending. In Ethiopia, the CWRAS helped to show the links among sectors using water and the economic impacts of hydrological variability. This finding led to some realignment of the Bank’s portfolio, and the identification of investment priorities, including multipurpose hydraulic infrastructure development, water supply and sanitation, and watershed management.
Strengthening the Quality and Impact of Investment Lending: The World Bank strengthens the quality of its water projects for more results through additional support from Global Partnership Programs. The Bank’sWater Partnership Program (WPP), a multi-donor trust fund, contributes to the Bank’s efforts to reduce poverty by promoting improvements in the management of water resources and the delivery of water services to boost the results of Bank-financed projects and by mainstreaming of water services and management in climate-resilient, green growth. The program supports more than 40 percent of all analytical work in water across all regions and water sub-sectors and it is maximizing and influencing almost US$11.5 billion in Bank financing. To respond to the complex water challenges of the 21st century and address issues such as climate change and the food-energy-water nexus, more than half of WPP financing supports water resources management work. A market-scoping study funded by the WPP is having a direct impact on the Bank-funded Karnataka Municipal Energy Project in India. The study identified energy efficiency improvements in India’s low-efficiency urban water sector. The Karnataka Municipal Water Energy Project rolled out pilot projects in six municipalities to replace old pumps with more energy efficient models. The cost of the program was about US$800,000 and is expected to lower operating costs by between 20 and 25 percent and save 16 million kilowatt hour per year. Over 10 years, the pilot will offset CO2 emissions by about 135,000 tons.
Bank Group Contribution
The World Bank funding for water resources management amounted to about US$8.0 billion across projects approved during fiscal years 2002-2012. In FY11 as well as FY12, World Bank funding for water resources management amounted to US$1.2 billion.
The Bank collaborates with partners to support innovation in integrated water resources management. Given the broad reach of water resources management needs and initiatives, this type of collaboration has been significant.
The Water Partnership Program (WPP) is a multi-donor trust fund supported by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Denmark. The fund aims to enhance the World Bank's efforts to reduce poverty through improved water resources management and water service delivery. It finances about 40 percent of all Bank analytical work on water and it is currently supporting activities in 55 countries. The WPP's funding has particular emphasis on Africa, gender equality, poverty reduction, as well as the quality of lending operations. The program has entered its second phase, which is largest in size and scope.
The South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI) is a multi-donor trust fund launched in 2008 with the goal to strengthen water resources management within and between the countries of South Asia, with an emphasis on regional cooperation and adaptation to climate change. Donors have to date committed a total of US$9.5 million of which US$5.5 million has already been transferred to the World Bank.
In March 2011, the World Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States government to expand and enhance collaboration in the water sector. The Bank is working in close cooperation with 16 U.S. agencies to support developing countries in managing global water crises, such as the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, diminishing aquifers, drought, flooding, and climate change impacts.
Continuous Bank leadership and strengthened support will be critical to secure the above achievements and increase the benefits to poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The World Bank is currently developing a new vision for water that strengthens the water practice to deliver on the bold leadership aspirations and meet changing client need. The vision places water at the center of helping people, economies and ecosystems thrive and thus contributing to a world free of poverty. Moving forward the Bank will:
- Strengthen efforts to address climate variability in Bank-financed projects through improved storage, flood control, and emergency response preparedness.
- Devote more resources to exploring and strengthening the linkages between water and other sectors such as energy, agriculture and the environment and to ensuring that water considerations are included in country sectoral planning.
- Increase support for hydropower and seek more opportunities to improve efficiency of water supply systems.
- Ensure that the food security agenda considers irrigation and work with clients to improve water efficiency of existing irrigation schemes.
- Strengthen the use and supply of data for decision making and dialogue between countries, and facilitate the integration of technologies for more reliable information.
- Continue its strong support to institutional reform and capacity building of relevant organizations, and strengthen global water partnerships for lasting impact.
It is something Arwa Mohamed remembers well. When it rained, the floodwaters in the streets in her Taiz neighborhood in Yemen were so high people were stuck for days. “When it would rain and the kids were in school, we were afraid, because the floods would come and cut off the streets, and whoever was home – the mothers – would wait by the windows to see their children coming, and scream out ‘don’t try to cross, it is dangerous.’ The flood once even swept away an old woman and her grandchild.” Now, Arwa ways, her neighborhood is safe. The rain water still comes, but now travel underneath her neighborhood, instead of through it, by way of a covered channel. “Now we have these nicely paved streets, and we can cross even during floods, but before, we were completely cut from life when it rained.”
For Amin Jibari, a grocer, the project has finally brought security to his basement home. “After they built the channel and a protection wall, the floods don’t come here. We are relaxed. No flooding!” Amin says that since the construction of a covered channel nearby, he and his family of five are no longer in danger.