As COP24 in Poland reaches its mid-point, it is becoming distressingly obvious that reaching the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Centigrade will be extremely challenging. Recognizing that millions of people across the world are already facing the severe consequences of more extreme weather events, the World Bank Group’s newly announced plan on climate financing for 2021-2025 includes a significant boost for adaptation.
An introduction to the who, what, when, where, and why.
In one of Mexico City’s most populated areas, Iztapalapa, there is a street named Alessandro Volta. With little knowledge about who this man was, we researched a bit and found that Alessandro Volta concluded, in 1776, that there was “a direct correlation between the amount of decaying organic matter and the amount of flammable gas produced”. Sir Humphry Davy determined 32 years later (in 1808) that methane was present in the gases produced during the anaerobic digestion (AD) of cattle manure. The first digestion plant was built at a leper colony in Bombay, India in 1859 (just 83 years later!).
Anaerobic digestion (AD) as a renewable resource has been growing since, in the international context, and has the potential to be a sustainable, affordable solution for wastewater management. In the 21st century, we are still fascinated with the idea of the benefits of biogas production. In modern times, AD is being used as a reliable energy source, and sludge resulting from AD processes can be used as fertilizer. Countries like the UK are producing enough biogas to power 1 million homes, 210 years after Sir Humphry Davy’s discoveries. In fact, according to a new report from the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) of the UK, in 2017 the total energy generation from anaerobic digestion plants reached 10.7 Terawatt-Hour (TWh) / year.
Over the past fifteen years, I have seen a rapid evolution in corporate actors in recognizing water risks to their operations. In response, some have taken measures to ensure that all water is returned to its originating watershed while making sure that returned water is as clean or cleaner than it was before. But to keep the momentum going, we need to think about how we can encourage and motivate companies that will push them to collaborate more with governments, other companies, and civil society toward realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Equally as important, we need to bring forward those companies that unfortunately have yet to prioritize water.
The positive feelings that come from rewarding good behavior are natural in humans. In fact, such feelings can do wonders. I see it every day with my own daughter; when she does well and gets recognition, she feels like she wants to, and can, do more.
In 2016, the 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) and its partners created the Blue Certificate, an initiative that is one of the workstreams of Peru 2030 WRG’s multi-stakeholder platform (MSP).
Continue to read the full blog on the 2030 Water Resources Group website.
Over the past 12 months, the world has seen water in its extremes. In the same year, the City of Cape Town, announced “day zero,” the day on which it was predicted the city would run dry, and a million victims of massive flooding were evacuated from Kerala, India. Floods, droughts, infrastructure shortfalls, poor quality and poor water resources management all made global headlines. Countries are facing a new normal where water is either “too much, too little, or too polluted.”
Martin Gambrill, Lead Water Supply & Sanitation Specialist, World Bank
Rebecca Jean Gilsdorf, Water Supply & Sanitation Specialist, World Bank
Ndeye Awa Diagne, Young Professional, World Bank
Today when you go to the toilet, be it in someone’s basic latrine in a rural village you might be visiting, in a public toilet where you work, or on a comfortable water-flushed ‘loo’ at home, take a moment to think about those not as fortunate as yourself.
As you sit (or squat) and contemplate, consider these three hard truths about sanitation:
Groundwater is fast disappearing in the Middle East and North Africa region. Under a business-as-usual approach to the use of these scarce resources, it is estimated that they will be gone in about 30 years. This will have a devasting impact on the communities and livelihoods that rely on this water. Agricultural production would drop by as much as 60% in some countries.
Co-author: Héctor Alexander Serrano, Water Resources Specialist, World Bank Water Global Practice
Also available in Español
Water Security is the new buzzword in the water sector… but what does it mean, really? And how is it applied to real life?
For countries and governments, the term national water security means having adequate water, both in quantity and quality, to meet all demands of the population, the productive sectors and the environment, but also dealing well with extremes, and overall managing the resource adequately and efficiently.
In Latin America, home for 650 million people, those changes are not an exception, and the term “Water Security” is becoming more and more relevant. In the most urbanized continent of the developing world, cities grow fast, vulnerability is latent in vast and fragile large peri-urban areas, and enhanced climate phenomena put high stress on water resources management, delivering of water services and means of production. About 227 million people still do not have access to safely managed water supply and more than 500 million do not have access to safely managed sanitation systems. In the Caribbean region, 26 million people fall into poverty each year because of natural disasters. Urban rivers and waterways in the region are among the most polluted in the world, since 70 percent of the wastewater discharged in the region receives no treatment.
Ms. Tettey wakes her children up at 3.30 am every morning to be able to make it to the front of the line at the nearest public toilet block, located about 150 meters from her house in Accra’s La Dade Kotopon Municipal Assembly. Like many residents of low-income informal settlements in Greater Accra, the Tettey family rents a single room in a compound house with about ten other families. The 2008 Ghana Living Standards Survey reports that 79% of Ghanaians live in compound houses consisting of several households built around a common open area or yard that share basic utilities like water, electricity and sanitation, where available. The use of shared toilets was the only alternative the Tetteh family had to open defecation when at home. During the day, the adults tried to take advantage of the public toilets near the market where Mrs. Tettey works, and the children were encouraged to use the toilets at their school before coming home. The Tetteys are among the 80 percent of Ghana’s population that lack access to ‘improved’ or safely managed sanitation.
An improved sanitation facility is defined as one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) currently exclude shared toilets from their definition of safely managed sanitation. Likewise, to meet the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP)’s definition of improved sanitation, toilets must be used by only one household, and they should meet certain design standards that prevent human contact with faeces. These definitions are driven by concerns that an increased number of users, among other factors, reduces the overall levels of hygiene and cleanliness of facilities and decreases their safety, thereby limiting access for women, children, and the elderly, and precluding achievement of the health, social and environmental benefits of having adequate sanitation.