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publication November 15, 2021

Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership: Annual Report 2021

GWSP Annual Report 2021


Download the 2021 Annual Report here.

Key messages: 

The water sector is facing a triple crisis of climate change, COVID-19, and lack of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. 

As the effects of climate change intensify and the world battles the long-term impact of the global pandemic, progress on achieving the SDGs by 2030 is falling further behind. The GWSP is building partnerships to roll out an integrated response to these challenges, and achieve water and sanitation for all.   

  • The world is not on track to reach SDG 6—safe drinking water and sanitation for all. About 2 billion people lack safely managed drinking water and 3.6 billion lack safely managed sanitation. If nothing changes, the world will not have enough water to meet demand by 2030.    
  • The link between water and climate change is only beginning to be fully appreciated. The climate crisis is a water crisis: the effects of climate change are felt through water, as higher temperatures lead to more droughts, floods, and rainfall variability.   
  • Water is essential in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and facilitating the world’s recovery. Clean water, sanitation, and hygiene are vital for curbing infectious diseases, yet water is not fully recognized as an integral part of our response to the pandemic. As we work to recover from the significant declines in human health and development resulting from COVID-19, we need water and sanitation for health, education, job creation, and a sustainable environment. 

As an action-oriented think tank, the GWSP aims to overcome water challenges by generating specialized knowledge, building capacity, and supporting sector reforms. 

Despite the triple crisis facing water, the GWSP is making real progress as it works with partners to find solutions and achieve a water-secure world for all. We support countries in delivering water for people, production, and the planet. We do this by developing knowledge, supporting policy reforms to improve services and water quality, and using our position within the World Bank to influence investments.  

  • Our analytical work ensures policy makers have better data and targeted options. We produce cutting-edge research and analytics to create and deliver urgent, practical, and innovative solutions that support investment in water and sanitation. There is growing demand for our analytical work to address pandemic-related challenges, along with a host of technical issues related to water and migration, floods and droughts, inclusion, sanitation, transboundary issues, tariffs, and water reuse. Our world-class analytics inform high-quality policy debates and shape World Bank projects.  
  • We use the World Bank’s sizeable lending portfolio to reinforce our analytical findings and advance the SDG agenda. In FY21 the GWSP influenced $14.2 billion in new lending across the World Bank. We leverage the strength of our portfolio to promote global dialogue and advocacy with key partners and clients, support innovations, and build country capacity to tackle water challenges. 
  • We use a coordinated and comprehensive approach to water supply and sanitation (WSS). Our work integrates a range of focus areas, from city sanitation to rural water supply, to policy, regulatory, and financial considerations. In FY21 we supported a non-revenue water study to improve efficiency at the Buenos Aires water and sanitation utility. This resulted in $400 million in World Bank financing to expand WSS services in vulnerable areas and increase wastewater treatment. 
  • Building resilience requires better management of water resources. As a result of climate change, the water cycle has become more unpredictable and extreme weather more likely. We support countries as they work to understand and address their water security challenges, from dam safety to water storage. In the Mashreq cluster, which includes Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, we are supporting a World Bank initiative to promote regional cooperation in the management of transboundary water resources in order to meet future demand. 
  • Agriculture consumes 70 percent of the world’s freshwater withdrawals. Investment in improving agricultural water use needs to go beyond government-led models towards more agile solutions that focus on farmers and sustainable private sector options. Hundreds of thousands of African farmers are taking the lead in expanding irrigation through a process known as farmer-led irrigation development (FLID). With our support, the World Bank launched the FLID Guide in March 2021. It provides governments and the private sector with practical strategies to catalyze FLID by creating an enabling environment for smallholder farmers. Using the guide, the GWSP is supporting FLID diagnostics in countries such as Kenya, Somalia, Malawi, Madagascar, and Rwanda. 

FEATURE STORY: Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership: Working with Country Partners for a Resilient  Water Future




BLOG: Finding solutions together for a water-secure future

We work with partners to ensure the world manages its water better for green, resilient, and inclusive development.  

We collaborate with external partners, stakeholders, country governments, and World Bank programs to support long-term development in line with the SDGs. Water security is an issue that cuts across a range of sectors, requiring an integrated, long-term approach to strategies and solutions.  

  • Fragile, conflict, and violence-affected countries suffer from poorly managed resources. A recent uptick in political risk, alongside COVID-19, has hindered the expansion of water-related services in these countries. Nevertheless, we continue to work with clients to complete analytical work, provide technical assistance, and build capacity to improve water resources management. In Somalia, recommendations from a GWSP-funded study are being incorporated into an ongoing $42 million project supporting improved productivity and resilience in 100 rural communities.  
  • Fostering inclusion in the water sector requires fundamental change. The GWSP is influencing the global agenda on gender equality in the water workplace. In Mexico, GWSP-supported advocacy resulted in the government eliminating taxes on menstrual hygiene products. In FY21, for the first time, 100 percent of GWSP-supported projects addressed both gender and citizen engagement.  
  • Our support has been instrumental in influencing the global agenda on water and climate change. We continued to support efforts to integrate climate change into policy discussions in FY21. During the year, the World Bank Group released its updated Climate Change Action Plan, which includes a new Country Climate Development Report (CCDR) diagnostic process. The CCDRs assess the potential effects of climate change and global decarbonization on a country’s development path and identify potential areas for action. The GWSP is providing technical inputs into this process, drafting a guide to integrating water issues into the reports, and examining water’s intersectoral linkages with climate and development plans for other sectors. 
  • As the world continues to rapidly urbanize, the need for well-managed sanitation in cities will grow. The GWSP’s Citywide Inclusive Sanitation initiative has helped identify, design, and implement urban sanitation interventions in over 30 countries, influencing about $6 billion in investments with more than 14 million direct and indirect beneficiaries. In FY21, this initiative provided technical assistance to eight new countries (Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Romania, Senegal, South Africa, and Turkey).  
  • Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities are crucial to the frontline defense against COVID-19. As a result of the fast-track financing available through the World Bank’s response to the pandemic, the number of projects supporting WASH in healthcare has doubled over the last year, from 29 to 58. During the year, we supported the development of an operational toolkit for WASH in healthcare facilities. In Uganda, the toolkit will be used to strengthen the technical design and construction management of water supply systems in maternity centers. 

VIDEO: Making Utility Turnaround Possible in India

VIDEO: Creating a Platform for Cooperation on Transboundary Water in the Middle East

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VIDEO: Towards Water Security in Togo