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FEATURE STORY July 5, 2018

Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership Celebrates One Year of Deepening Knowledge, Shaping Debates and Amplifying Action on Water



  • July 2018 marks the one-year anniversary of GWSP.
  • It is moving the needle across its five themes – inclusion, sustainability, financing, institutions and resilience.
  • GWSP helps knowledge flow from and to World Bank projects and programs.

Water flows through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and this presents both challenges and opportunities. And the SDGs not only come with new and significant financing needs but SDG 6, for example, commits to universal access to WASH (water supply, sanitation and hygiene) with a new and broader framework.

But it also presents an opportunity for new paradigms, creative collaborations and fresh approaches. That’s why, one year ago this month, the World Bank with its partners launched a new partnership for a water-secure world, the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP), housed within the World Bank’s Water Global Practice (GP).

This partnership comes at a vital moment. “,” says Guangzhe Chen, Senior Director for the World Bank Water Global Practice. “Some one-fifth of the world’s population, or 1.2 billion people, now live in an area of water scarcity, where demand cannot or will not continue to meet supply. And


The GWSP stands on the shoulders of giants. It builds on decades of knowledge, learning and practical experience from the World Bank, the Water Partnership Program (WPP) and the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP.) Jan Willem Rosenboom, Senior Program Officer for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explains why this heritage makes the GWSP an important partner:

“The WSP operating model continues to inform GWSP’s approach, through its continued local engagement and strategic partner relationships. And GWSP offers an even clearer pathway to scale through the deeper connection with World Bank Operations and this will be crucial for achieving the SDGs.

“When the Gates Foundation made its first investments in WASH, WSP was one of our earliest partners. The depth and strength of our relationship continues with the collaborative creation that is GWSP and I look forward to continuing to work together, with even stronger alignment going forward.”

At the core of GWSP’s model is a belief that first-rate research and systematic knowledge is essential to maintaining the high quality of World Bank operations. It is equally essential to shaping the external debate as part of our mission to deliver a water-secure world for all. So the GWSP produces strategic, robust and practical information, insights and ideas to shape both practice and policy.

For example, the GWSP part-funded the WASH Poverty Diagnostic Initiative, an 18-country research project. Launched at last year’s World Water Week, the report’s webpage attracted 25,000 unique visitors within eight weeks of its release, its videohas been viewed over 34,000 times on YouTube and the Nigeria report was launched alongside Nigeria Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

The GWSP does not pursue knowledge for its own sake but rather knowledge as an instrument for improvement.  

World Bank Group

GWSP works to advance five priority themes where action is critically needed to achieve the SDGs for water – inclusion, sustainability, financing, institutions and resilience. One recent area of focus has been that of menstrual hygiene management. It has supported analysis, guidance and technical support in this area as well as working with World Bank leadership to raise awareness of this crucial issue.  

Johan Sundberg, Senior Program Specialist in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), believes GWSP is targeting its resources and efforts at the most crucial challenges: “Water and sanitation can be the key that unlocks potential for empowerment, especially for women and girls. Investments in the five GWSP themes, based on data from the WASH Poverty Diagnostic approach, can accelerate development progress, increase financing possibilities for the sector, and ensure nobody is left behind as the global community strives to achieve the SDGs.”

Joel Kolker, Program Manager of the GWSP, outlines the model for this: “GWSP is a bridge between knowledge and implementation. We have the research and analytical capacity of a think-tank and link these to programs and project investments around the world. We both learn from and help shape these programs and projects, meaning knowledge flows both to and from implementation.”