Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP)

Water touches nearly every aspect of development. It drives economic growth, supports healthy ecosystems and is fundamental for life. However, this critical resource can harm as well as help. Water-related hazards such as floods, storms, and droughts are responsible for 9 out of 10 natural disasters.  Climate change is expected to increase this risk and place even greater stress on scarce water supplies.

New challenges and new contexts require new responses.  That’s why the World Bank, together with its partners, has launched a new partnership for a water-secure world, the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP).  Building on a nearly half-century of collaboration driven by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), the Water Partnership Program (WPP) and others, the GWSP aims to provide action equal to the ambition articulated within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs.) 

The GWSP primarily focuses on advancing knowledge and building capacity.  It supports client governments to achieve the water-related SDGs through the generation of innovative global knowledge and the provision of country-level support, while leveraging World Bank Group financial instruments and promoting global dialogue and advocacy with key partners and clients to increase reach and impact. This Partnership will provide new opportunities to test and scale-up innovations, build country capacity where needed and influence client demand and World Bank operations.

Learn more about GWSP in this brochure.

View our fact sheet

Check out our 2016-2020 knowledge highlights


The GWSP has identified five priority themes for action:

Sustainability  |  Inclusion  |  Institutions  |  Financing  |  Resilience

Sustainability is ultimately about ensuring that available resources today can continue to deliver benefits to future generations. The partnership focuses on two critical aspects for ensuring long-term sustainability of water investments. Firstly, the sustainable management of water resources.  This means securing the long-term availability of water resources, considering the impacts of population growth, rapid urbanization and climate change. Secondly, infrastructure assets should be adequately built and maintained, to ensure for example that handpumps do not break down prematurely or that treatment plants are not abandoned for lack of adequate maintenance. 

Inclusion is the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups who are disadvantaged based on their identity, to take part in society.  Water belongs to everyone and yet many are excluded from its benefits and often from ownership and control of this critical resource.  Ensuring that a project is inclusive enhances the inclusion agenda requires better knowledge on the nature of water inequality, enhancing capacity and putting in place incentives that will result in better outcomes.  Underlying such design also requires strong institutions that will hold state and service providers accountable. 

Expanding access to and improving the quality of services can only be achieved and sustained if the institutional arrangements provide the right incentives and resources and the organizations tasked with service delivery also have the requisite capacity. Institutions comprise the formal and informal rules of the game within which these organizations operate and, through them, impact the quality and sustainability of services.  To the extent that providers of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and irrigation services are (quasi) government entities, they are influenced by the broader governance environment and the institutional architecture of the public sector that goes beyond the water sector. To strengthen institutions and accountability for service provision, GWSP works to understand the rules of the game and incentive structures, grounded in local cultures, economies, and political circumstances.

Financing needs to expand access to safely managed water to deliver on the SDGs.  Sanitation services alone have been estimated at US $114 billion per year up to 2030. That’s vastly more than the amount historically invested to expand access, and much more will be needed to deliver universal access and to manage water resources and infrastructure sustainably.  A two-pronged approach is needed. Firstly, improving the financial viability of the water sector to ensure that “water can pay for water”, while ensuring affordability of services for the poor. Secondly, leveraging commercial and non-state sources of financing will be critical so that the sector can tap new financial sources.  Read: Danube Water - Identifying alternative financing for the water sector

Management of water resources and water facilities will increasingly be subject to shocks in years to come. That’s because climate change is predicted to increase climate variability and extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts.  Resilient solutions call for strategies and tools at the country, basin, and project level capable of incorporating not only climate and disaster risk consideration into the analysis, but also innovative solutions to ease water scarcity constraints as well as socioeconomic and environmental considerations. Building climate resilience will require developing tools and approaches that can help save lives and livelihoods. Resilient water services (water and sanitation, irrigation, etc.) are better able to adapt to shocks and stresses and continue delivering essential services to the population. 

Of course, these themes do not exist in isolation and need to be rolled out simultaneously so that actions under each of these themes can mutually reinforce each other and can contribute to the many other SDGs with which they are so closely interlinked.


The GWSP primarily focuses on advancing knowledge and building capacity. It supports client governments to achieve the water-related SDGs through the generation of innovative global knowledge and the provision of country-level support. It leverages World Bank Group financial instruments and promotes global dialogue and advocacy with key partners and clients to increase reach and impact. This Partnership provides new opportunities to test and expand innovations, builds country capacity and informs client country demand and World Bank operations.



The GWSP is a ‘living laboratory’ which provides countries with guidance, policymakers with knowledge and learning products, and the public with resources about why water is so crucial to the world’s wellbeing. The GSWP, hosted by the World Bank’s Water Global Practice (Water GP), offers many years of experience from the ground, some of the world’s foremost water experts and the ability to convene a wide range of diverse actors.



The GWSP will measure results at three different levels:

Block A: Direct results from activities funded by the Partnership

Block B: Impact of GWSP activities on the Water GP itself

Block C: Combined results at the client country level


List of Block C Countries: Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Vietnam and Pakistan

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.

Knowledge Highlights from the Water Global Practice 2016-2020 (updated July 2020) →

Training on Financing





Water and the Economy



East Asia and Pacific


Europe and Central Asia


Latin America and the Caribbean


Middle East and North Africa


South Asia

See All World Bank Publications on Water




Author(s):  Damania, Desbureaux, Hyland, Islam, Moore, Rodella, Russ, Zaveri

This book presents new evidence to advance our understanding of how rainfall shocks, coupled with water scarcity, affect farms, firms, and families. A key message is that water has multiple economic attributes that entail distinct policy responses at each stage in its cycle of use. If water is not managed more prudently— from source, to tap, and back to source—the crises observed today will become the catastrophes of tomorrow.




Author(s): Water GP | Focus: Water, Poverty and the Economy

The impacts of climate change will be channeled primarily through the water cycle, with consequences that could be large and uneven across the globe. Water-related climate risks cascade through food, energy, urban, and environmental systems. Growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will converge upon a world where the demand for water rises exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain. They will jeopardize growth prospects in the regions worst affected and in some of the poorest countries.



Author(s): Chase, Damania |Focus: Water, Poverty and the Economy

This discussion paper provides an overview of the poverty-related impacts of inadequate water supply and sanitation and highlights the policy challenges that have emerged in a more populated, polluted, and urbanized world with finite water resources. It highlights the need for sustained changes in individual behavior, more equitable access to services, and incentives for improved water resource stewardship.

  See All Publications on WATER and the ECONOMY

See the full selection of reports, case studies and toolkits supported by GWSP

Last Updated: Jul 13, 2020

About the Partnership
The GWSP supports client governments to achieve the water-related Sustainable Development Goals through the generation of innovative global knowledge and the provision of country-level support.

Social Media

Contact GWSP
Program Manager
Joel Kolker
Water Global Practice, The World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington D.C. 20433, USA
Tel : +1 (202) 473 4229