The world will not be able to meet the great development challenges of the 21st century – human development, livable cities, climate change, food security, energy security – without improving how countries manage their water resources and ensuring that people have access to reliable water and sanitation services.
The world is facing a water crisis. The World Economic Forum identified water supply crises among the top two most impactful, and top five most likely global risks.
Water is at the center of economic and social development: it is vital to maintain health, grow food, manage the environment, and create jobs. Water impacts whether poor girls are educated and whether poor villages can withstand flood or drought.
But mismanagement of this basic element of life has led to millions of deaths and billions of dollars in lost economic growth potential annually, severely constraining countries’ development potential.
Today, 2.5 billion people remain without basic sanitation. Poor sanitation impacts health, education, the environment, and industries such as tourism. It means that girls are more likely to drop out of school or fall victim to attacks while seeking privacy. At least 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water. This causes 4,000 child deaths and up to 7% of GDP in economic losses in some countries every year.
The global population is growing fast. Analysis suggests that with current practices, the world will face a 40% global shortfall between forecast demand and available supply of water by 2030.
Feeding a planet of 9 billion by 2050 will require approximately 50%more water in 2050.
More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. And the number is growing fast. For cities where there is already not enough safe drinking water, how will they cope with the increase in demand?
Currently, 2 billion people live in countries with absolute water scarcity and the number is expected to rise to 4.6 billion by 2080.
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. Poorer countries, which contributed least to the problem, will be most affected.
Last Updated: Sep 25, 2013
Ensuring poor people are included.
The World Bank aims to help governments ensure basic access to water and sanitation services for even the poorest people. The Bank also seeks to increasingly ensure its Water projects explicitly factor poverty into project development.
The world has met early the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe water. Between 1990 and 2010, over 2 billion people gained access, and almost 1.9 billion people gained access to sanitation. However, Africa will likely not attain its water MDG.
Although the world will likely not meet the sanitation MDG, progress is being made. While 500 million gained access to sanitation in the last 2 years, there is still a long way to go, with 2.5 billion still without access to sanitation.
Securing sustainable financing for the Water sector.
The World Bank is the largest external source of financing for water projects. In FY13, the World Bank Group committed US$3 billion for the water sector. In the last three years (FY11-13), the World Bank’s commitment for water projects totaled US$17 billion, comprising 56% for water supply and sanitation, 16% for hydropower, 15% for irrigation and drainage, and 13% for flood protection. In FY13, IFC lent US$214 million for water infrastructure projects. MIGA provided guarantees totaling US$704 million for water supply, water treatment, and hydropower investments in Ghana, Jordan, and Angola, respectively.
However, with massive water challenges, financing from the public sector and development aid is not enough. The Bank seeks to leverage financing from other sources, including the domestic private sector, and through public-private partnerships.
A strategic review of the Bank Group’s involvement in the water sector, Sustaining Water for All in a Changing Climate (2010), reaffirmed the relevance of core business themes: infrastructure for access, integrated water resources management, and capacity-building for results-based decision-making. In this context, the World Bank is defininga new vision for water that places increased emphasis on:
Preparing client countries for the “known future” as well as we can – a future of higher food and energy prices, more volatility, and more extreme weather.
Helping countries to get water right in other sectors, such as energy, agriculture, and the environment.
Adopting an integrated, “nexus” approach to water, initially in six geographic areas: India, Kenya, megacities in Latin America, the Mekong Delta, Nigeria, and the Western Balkans.
Advancing global knowledge on water and building stronger institutional frameworks for water management across sectors, as well as national and regional boundaries.
Committing to longer-term engagements, focusing at the basin level.
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2013
Since 2002, Bank-supported projects provided 145 million people with access to improved water sources and provided nearly 10 million people with access to improved sanitation facilities.
The World Bank Water and Sanitation Program helped some 70 small and medium local private enterprises to develop more than US$10 million in assets in water and sanitation and to achieve and maintain good financial standing. The initiative also brought new access to sanitation for 50,000 people and new access to water to nearly 200,000 people. WSP has helped communities in India, Indonesia, and Tanzania improve access to sanitation for 22 million people since 2007 through a combination of enabling environment, marketing and behavior change, and knowledge-sharing activities.
The World Bank places Water management at the center of its efforts to help countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. It also seeks to ensure that Water issues are effectively addressed in related sectors, such as agriculture, disaster risk management, energy, and health.
In 2002-11 the Bank supported provision of irrigation services for about 3.6m hectares of arable lands.
The Bank has launched an initiative analyzing economic impact and tradeoffs to help the energy sector increase its awareness and improve management of the massive amounts of water needed for energy production.
The Bank also supports transformational engagements which seek to optimize spatial, green and co-benefits among water and other infrastructure sectors. The Mozambique Water Resources Development project, for example, combines multi-purpose use of water and governance components to increase the yield of the Corumana Dam.
Greater innovation and integrated approaches in Water are yielding great benefits.
The Bank engaged in Armenia with a series of operations that supported appropriate private utility engagement in water supply. Since 1998, water supply hours have more than doubled, payment rates have improved from 20% to 79%, and energy use for water supply has halved.
The World Bank’s Water Partnership Program is helping countries as diverse as Uganda, Mali, Nigeria, and Brazil to promote growth by investing in water for agriculture. In Egypt for example, a new methodology was applied in the wastewater sector to identify opportunities for safe water reuse in agriculture under revised WHO guidelines.
The World Bank Water practice creates significant impact through partnerships with donors thatleverage advisory and operational assistance for client countries.
The Water practice includes World Bank operations, the Water anchor unit, the Water and Sanitation Program, the Water Partnership Program, the Cooperation in International Waters in Africa, and the Southern Africa Water Initiative. The International Finance Corporation, the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility and the Global Partnership for Output Based Aid also complement Water practice projects and programs.