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Soft touches, hard stuff: Managing water in an increasingly disaster-prone world

December 10, 2019

Washington, DC

  • Water is life. Too little, and we cannot survive. But too much of a good thing can devastate, and climate change is making water-related disasters like droughts and floods more frequent, destructive, and deadly.

    Each year, the World Bank invests billions of dollars in water-related infrastructure. These investments are essential so that children can drink without fear of deadly disease, for hygiene and sanitation, to protect harvests and ensure food security, and to defend the hard-won gains of the poor from being swept away by floods or withered by drought. They are critical to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, from Zero Hunger to providing Clean Water and Sanitation and ensuring Sustainable Cities and Communities.
    Infrastructure is neat but it exists in a messy world, and the good intentions of designers, engineers, planners, and development professionals can be frustrated when the people that infrastructure is created for misuse or abuse it, often unintentionally. This can degrade the value of infrastructure and even convert it from a productive asset to a source of risk. How can we engage people to protect and unlock the full potential of our massive investments in water security?
    Join us to debate whether and how people-centered interventions should be integrated in water-related projects. Building on two DIME studies on engaging urban communities for flood risk prevention in Senegal and using information to reduce water scarcity in Mozambique, we will discuss the role that these “softer” investments can play in complementing and promoting the sustainability of water infrastructure investments and protecting our communities in an increasingly disaster-prone world.

  • Introduction: Arianna Legovini, Head, Development Impact Evaluation (DIME)

    Short presentations:

    • Engaging community-based organizations for flood-risk mitigation in urban Dakar (Marcus Holmlund, Senior Economist, DIME)
    • Reducing water scarcity through information in Mozambique (Paul Christian, Economist, DIME)

    SmackDown featuring:

    • Jennifer Sara, Global Director, Water
    • Sameh Wahba, Global Director, Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience, and Land
    • Susan Wong, Global Lead, Community-Driven Development 
  • DIME is a World Bank-wide program to generate knowledge on the effectiveness of development policies. Working across 18 thematic areas, DIME collaborates with 300 agencies in 72 countries to improve the effectiveness of policies and programs and strengthen country capacity for real-time evidence-based policy-making. More »

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