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FEATURE STORY November 4, 2019

Connecting the Drops – How GWSP is Linking Analysis with Action in its Second Year


Click Here to Download GWSP's Second Annual Report "Connecting the Drops" 


  • GWSP’s second Annual Report details how the Partnership integrates research and knowledge with collaboration and technical assistance to help develop and implement solutions to the water crisis.
  • GWSP support helped bring improved sanitation, agricultural and water mitigation risk services to millions during its second year.
  • In FY19, GWSP’s knowledge and analytics influenced a total of $13.7 billion in water lending operations.

Access to water and sanitation is essential to the health and well-being of individuals, the environment, and economies. But at a time when access to such essential services remains out of reach for so many because of multiple pressures, it is crucial that policy-makers and practitioners at the local, national, regional and global level have high-quality knowledge and analysis to devise appropriate solutions to this massive challenge. 

The Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) brings a unique global value proposition to this conundrum. It is a major contributor to a growing body of evidence demonstrating how the current and pending water crises are affecting economies, health, jobs and the environment.  Just as importantly, GWSP supports technical assistance addressing how these very significant challenges can be addressed. This body of work, in turn, has a direct impact on the policy advice provided to clients, as well as on the design and implementation of World Bank lending operations.  

The Partnership has worked with nearly 400 local and international partners to produce cutting-edge analysis, which is shared and used by both national and subnational clients, other development partners, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the private sector. This analysis informs government policies in client countries, fosters partnerships, and builds capacity where it is needed most. 

GWSP’s second Annual Report – Connecting the Drops – is full of examples that illustrate how this is happening across the globe, and these connections play a key role in maximizing GWSP’s impact, as GWSP Program Manager Joel Kolker explains:

“GWSP is perhaps the only water-related think tank that goes beyond knowledge and directly supports implementation at scale. Once challenges are identified and a thorough analysis is undertaken, the findings are shared with clients, Bank staff, and the broader development community.  

“As appropriate, GWSP then provides the necessary resources through just-in-time technical assistance and long-term country engagements, working with partners in some of the most challenging environments in the world. GWSP is moving the knowledge generated on critical water-related issues directly into concrete, well-financed programs addressing these issues.”

"GWSP is perhaps the only water-related think tank that goes beyond knowledge and directly supports implementation at scale."
Joel Kolker
GWSP Program Manager

The report details the numerous ways that the Partnership has advanced the water agenda on the ground in its second year of existence. In FY19, GWSP provided analytical, knowledge, technical assistance and staff support to achieve meaningful results from the 143 lending operations in its portfolio:

  • 172 million people, including 86 million women and girls, received access to improved sanitation.

  • 2.9 million farmers, 0.6 million of whom are female, adopted improved agricultural technology.

  • 5 million people now live in areas covered by water risk mitigation measures.

  • 12,900 tons/year of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) pollution loads were removed by treatment plants; and

  • 0.7 million hectares of land were provided with new or improved irrigation services.

In FY19, GWSP’s knowledge and analytics influenced a total of $13.7 billion in water lending operations, including $1.4 billion in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence (FCV). Highlights from these GWSP-sponsored activities include results that will specifically benefit female workers and young people:

  • GWSP helped ensure Tanzania’s Sustainable Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program will allocate a higher percentage of subsidized student loans to female students.

  • GWSP provided resources so Tajikistan’s Dushanbe Vodokanal Water and Sanitation Utility could launch outreach and recruitment programs at universities and technical schools to boost inclusion.

  • GWSP’s analysis on closing the gender gap in the water workforce contributed to securing additional financing for the Greater Beirut Water Supply project to support trainings for female employees from Lebanon’s Beirut Mount Lebanon Water Establishment utility.

  • GWSP supported the government of Bangladesh in demonstrating how to leverage microfinance and technical assistance to support rural and low-income households and construction companies in purchasing and installing hygienic latrines.

  • Shaped the agenda by publishing high-quality reports with original research such as Quality Unknown, Integrating Green and Gray Infrastructure and Doing More with Less, all of which were launched with extensive communications packages and received global media coverage.

The value of this work has been kindly supported and very much recognized by GWSP’s partners. Ana Gren, from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), believes GWSP helps advance key strategic priorities:

“For Sweden, we have a feministic foreign policy, we have a gender national policy, and also a policy that gender and inclusion are aspects related to all of SIDA’s work. So the way the GWSP is forming its programs is really following many of these strategic directions that we are following.” 

Acting as the Global Water Practice’s think-tank, as well as providing resources for staff to move knowledge and analytics into implementation at the national and sub-national level, GWSP leverages the knowledge and technical assistance it provides to influence the design and implementation of client policies and programs, as well as client and World Bank-supported water sector reforms and investments. 

Jan-Willem Rosenboom, the Senior Program Officer for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, believes a combination of experience, trust and shared vision helps the partnership run smoothly: 

“We have worked together on a whole range of different things starting with specific country and specific subject investments around hand washing, rural sanitation, sanitation marketing and behavior change. We have completely aligned strategies and priorities in a partnership that really focuses not just on doing, but on figuring out what works and jointly learning - and trying to introduce innovations and new ideas into the sector and bringing them to scale in sustainable programs.”

The synergy and connective tissue between the partnership’s knowledge and analysis apparatus, and its collaboration with partners and in-country teams, is what makes the GWSP unique. When both analysis and action are put to ambitious use, the drops are connected between the water crisis and the water solution.