Given that World Water Day, March 22, is not even underway in a large part of the world, at the time of this writing, the amount of World Water Day coverage is no small thing. Here is how World Water Day (eve) has unfolded across the World Bank’s social media and websites.
A ground-breaking study released last month shows how the Middle East is losing its fresh water reserves. Prepared jointly by NASA and the University of California Irvine, and published by Water Resources Research, the report offers a range of alarming statistics on both the amount and rate of the region’s water loss.
This year’s World Water Day (March 22) focuses on cooperation around water, so it’s a good time to reflect on lessons that those of us working on cooperation in international waters can learn from the experiences and accomplishments in water cooperation in the Nile Basin.
1 basin, 9 countries, 1 vision was in a brochure of one of the Council of Ministers meeting of the Niger Basin. The first time I saw that brochure I smiled as I right away thought about 9-1-1, the emergency telephone number used to respond to emergency circumstances in North America. It made me think about the numerous challenges that the Niger Basin faces.
This large Basin of 2 million square kilometers with a complex hydrology, running through nine countries, including its central part in the Sahel, has significantly untapped potential (agriculture, energy, etc.) that represents high stakes for large groups of communities, environmental degradation, and frequent water shocks (drought and floods). The Basin territory is also home to numerous political challenges, including instability and terrorism activities as highlighted by the ongoing events in Mali. Quite daunting when you look at it from this perspective, and it does give a sense of urgency.
In the World Bank we often discuss how important it is to integrate solutions across sectors. In Mombasa, Kenya, we have an example of how a comprehensive sediment management approach will allow the government to lower the environmental impact of a proposed dam and save tens of millions of dollars by reducing the amount of sediment that the dam traps. When too much sediment is trapped in a dam, the lifespan of the dam is shortened considerably so reducing sediment is key for long-term success.
Water management lies behind most of the great development challenges of the 21st Century. It's obvious but we too often forget that we won't be able to achieve food security, energy security, healthy cities and productive ecosystems without greatly improving how we manage water. In the global north, the challenges of basic access to water services are less pressing than they are in the south but -- as hurricane Sandy showed New York -- the challenges of making the right quantity and quality of water available where it is most needed still loom large.
Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.
Globally, forests are disappearing at an increasing rate. Since 1990 alone, half of the world’s rainforests have vanished. Tanzania also has been severely affected by deforestation as illustrated by the following statistics:
- Forest area as a share of total land area declined from 50 per cent to 43 per cent to 37 per cent from 1938, to 1987 and 2010 respectively.
Last week, I had the honor of speaking to the UN Security Council about an increasingly dangerous threat facing cities and countries around the world, a threat that, more and more, is influencing everything that they and we do: climate change.
World Bank President Jim Kim was in Russia talking with G20 finance ministers about the same thing – the need to combat climate change. Every day, we’re hearing growing concerns from leaders around the world about climate change and its impact.
If we needed any reminder of the immediacy and the urgency of the situation, Australia Foreign Minister Bob Carr and our good friend President Tong of Kiribati spoke by video of the security implication of climate effects on the Pacific region. Perhaps most moving of all, Minister Tony deBrum from the Marshall Islands recounted how, 35 years ago, he had come to New York as part of a Marshall Islands delegation requesting the Security Council’s support for their independence. Now, when not independence but survival is at stake, he is told that this is not the Security Council’s function. He pointed to their ambassador to the UN and noted that her island, part of the Marshall Islands, no longer exists. The room was silent.
When we got closer I saw that the bridge at the confluence was not a bridge: It was a line stitched together from hundreds of little boats full of people. Our own little boat went straight for it and docked at what looked like a slightly more important boat. I then realized this was the place to take a dip…