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Water Security for All: The Next Wave of Tools


Publication Highlights
  • Water security has been and still remains a major challenge for many countries and communities, especially in a changing climate. The poor and most vulnerable are affected the most.
  • Countries and communities need forward-looking water solutions to help them prepare for an uncertain future.
  • The resources provided through the Water Partnership Program are enabling the Water Global Practice to develop innovative tools to help communities and countries achieve water security for all.

Water insecurity is already affecting millions of people around the world, especially the poor and most vulnerable.  By 2025, about 1.8 billion people will be living in regions or countries with absolute water scarcity. At the other end of the spectrum, by 2100 about 177 million people globally will be living in a place at risk of regular flooding. 145 million of these people are in Asia.

The impacts of too much or too little water can be devastating: 

  • Northern Brazil is going through one of the most severe multi-year droughts in decades since 2010. An already dry region will get even drier, making crops even harder to grow and hydropower energy harder to generate.
  • Africa’s massive Sahel region is plagued by a prolonged drought that is leaving a trail of hunger and affected the livelihoods of millions of people.
  • In South Asia, one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, floods have cost billions of dollars in recovery and losses in human lives.  

One of the key challenges associated with improving water security is the ability to make decisions in the present that sufficiently anticipate the needs of the future.

The World Bank’s Water Global Practice, with support from the Water Partnership Program (WPP), and working with the Climate Change CCSA, helps countries to better manage for the future using tools that assess climate change impacts on water.

Innovative solutions in water have the potential to transform economies and livelihoods.

For example, satellite technologies such as Remote Sensing can provide farmers with timely information on weather patterns to help them adjust water use practices. They can also identify areas where more or less water is needed in order to improve rural livelihoods, agricultural productivity and food security. This can unlock the potential of rural areas thus diminish poverty.  

  • In India’s Uttar Pradesh region satellite imagery analyzed the impact of improved irrigation on agricultural intensification. Results revealed that income levels increased by 78 percent and overall income distribution improved in the areas where reforms were made. Moreover, water productivity increased substantially, as did crop yields.



Download the WPP Infographic: Tools for Climate-Smart Water Decisions

Innovative climate change tools such as the Climate Change Decision Tree provides guidance to decision-makers on how to climate-proof investments through a risk-based, bottom-up approach. This can ensure that populations have water when they need it for generations to come. This tool is currently being piloted in Nepal and Kenya.

  • In Nepal’s Koshi Basin, further investments in hydropower facilities will help address dry-season energy shortfalls and help secure water and energy for about 2.6 million people. But given climate change, this investment needs to go through climate tests to identify vulnerabilities and manage risks before it is even implemented.
  • Kenya’s Mwache Dam provides hydropower, irrigation and municipal water supply to help the country’s coastal countries secure water and build resilience. But climate change poses risks on the quantity of water available for these uses. Understanding these uncertainties will help shape the design and size of the dam so as to minimize unnecessary impacts, as well as save costs and effort.

Tools that incorporate water in managing disaster risks can enable countries to pinpoint the location and impacts of potential water-related hazards, and focus resources in high-risk areas. Reducing exposure and vulnerability can reverse the current trend of rising disaster impact and minimize human and economic losses.

  • In Brazil’s Northeastern region that is hit by the worst drought in recent decades, a pilot program is being implemented to build capacity to manage droughts - for example, by building a drought monitor and early warning system, and by understanding disaster impact on other sectors to enable a systematic response and the development of a long-term mitigation strategy.
  • In the Sahel, support to the Sahel Disaster Resilience Project assesses surface and groundwater resources and the role they can play in strengthening disaster resilience. This will help identify priority investments for strengthening the national disaster risk management capacity in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

Countries are making the significant strides in securing water. By bringing this knowledge to their doorstep the World Bank Group is filling global knowledge gaps and allows them to take advantages of new thinking and tools to improve their long-term planning.

The Bank’s investment in these innovative tools is made possible by the donors of the WPP: Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

For more information on these approaches please visit https://water.worldbank.org/wpp

Last Updated: Apr 30, 2015


Nansia Constantinou