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Buenos Aires: How the Maldonado stream went back to its bed

Maria Madrid's picture
The case of the Maldonado stream: The voice of a citizen

Imagine a busy metropolitan avenue crossing the length of Buenos Aires, Argentina, transited daily by buses and trains and lined with a large hospital, medical buildings, schools, shops and businesses.

Now imagine for 27 years this avenue flooding severely 37 times as if it were a river. During a flood, envision people being evacuated in motorboats, cars practically floating downstream, and cars and pedestrians on the bridge above it having to remain stranded there until the waters on the avenue below receded. It sounds implausible doesn’t it? Not for Buenos Aires residents it didn’t. The Juan B. Justo Avenue was such a thoroughfare.

Managing Water Across Boundaries

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture
World Water Week 2013Most of the planet is covered in water, yet less than one percent of it is available for human use. Access to water and sanitation is a key component of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the emerging Post-2015 agenda. Water also directly contributes to goals of health, food security, biodiversity, energy, and peace and security.
Today at least 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Feeding a planet of nine billion people by 2050 will require approximately 50 percent more water in 2050.  These challenges are exacerbated by increasing scarcity of water, extreme weather due to climate change, and a rapidly growing population.
Responding to the global crisis in water requires a more deliberate approach to managing trans-boundary water. Forty percent of the world's population lives in international river basins, which account for 80% of global river flow.  Despite this and the proven benefits of cooperation, such as reduced chances of conflict, improved river sustainability, and access to external markets, 166 of the world’s 276 international basins have no treaty provisions covering them.  Moreover, many multilateral basins are subject to bilateral treaties that preclude participation by other riparian countries.

5 Reasons Why Just Building Toilets Won’t Improve Urban Sanitation

Peter Hawkins's picture

It’s widely reported that most of the world’s population lives in urban areas. UN-Habitat estimates that 40% of urban dwellers live in slums, and that number is growing by more than 20 million people per year. Perhaps, less commonly reported is that while population is growing rapidly, urban sanitation coverage has only increased slightly.
While toilet access is generally higher in urban areas as compared to rural, sanitary conditions in urban areas are aggravated by high-density living, inadequate septage and solid waste management, and poor drainage. Recent analysis by WSP concludes that to make any significant impact it is essential to adopt a multi-dimensional approach to this complex problem. Here are five reasons why urban sanitation is about more than building a toilet.

Thirsty Energy: Making the Energy-Water Nexus Work For Us

Diego Juan Rodriguez's picture

Energy-Water NexusIn July, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released reports (see U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather and Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World) highlighting the energy sector’s vulnerability to future water constraints.  The reports’ findings paint a worrisome picture: currently, 60% of coal power plants in the U.S. are experiencing water stress; hydropower is threatened due to more frequent and severe droughts; and energy infrastructure is endangered by water variability due to climate change.

Water is critical for producing power, and vice versa. Almost all energy generation processes require significant amounts of water, and the treatment and transport of water requires energy, mainly in the form of electricity. Even though the interdependency between water and energy is gaining wider recognition worldwide, water and energy planning often remain distinct. The tradeoffs involved in balancing one need against the other in this “energy-water nexus,” as it is called, are often not clearly identified or taken into account, complicating possible solutions.

Q&A: Engaging with Citizens in India for Improved Water Services

Vandana Bhatnagar's picture

Is there a model to track citizen experience of water services and present it in a ready-to-use manner for decision makers and the public? Would better articulation of citizen preferences encourage more meaningful engagement with service providers? 

Learning from Data-Driven Delivery

Aleem Walji's picture

Given confusion around the phrase “science of delivery,” it’s important to state that delivery science is not a “one-size-fits-all” prescription based on the premise that what works somewhere can work anywhere. And it does not profess that research and evidence ensure a certain outcome.
A few weeks ago, the World Bank and the Korea Development Institute convened a global conference on the science of delivery. Several development institutions assembled including the Gates Foundation, the Grameen Foundation, UNICEF, the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, and the mHealth Alliance. We discussed development opportunities and challenges when focusing on the extremely poor, including experiments in health care, how technology is reducing costs and increasing effectiveness, and the difficulty of moving from successful pilots to delivery at scale.
The consensus in Seoul was that a science of delivery underscores the importance of a data-driven and rigorous process to understand what works, under what conditions, why, and how. Too often in international development, we jump to conclusions without understanding counterfactuals and assume we can replicate success without understanding its constituent elements.

How to provide clean water in rural areas: an example from Vietnam

Hoang Thi Hoa's picture

Two kids wash their hands with clean water. Their home in Thai Binh Province, Vietnam got access to clean water in 2011. Watch video: Providing clean water in rural areas: an example from Vietnam

Despite Vietnam’s significant economic growth in recent years, there continues to be a gap between urban and rural areas when it comes to access to clean water and hygienic sanitation facilities. Many poor households in rural areas still do not have access to clean water or to a toilet. During one of our earlier field visits for the Red River Delta Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RRDRWASS) project which began almost 10 years ago, I was struck by what a lady from a community told me. She questioned why people in urban areas have access to good water supply and sanitation services while those in rural areas do not. She said that compared to urban residents, perhaps people in rural areas were happy with a lower level of service and that the demand for better services was simply not there.

At first I thought that she might be right but I later came to realise that this is not the case. There is demand for improved services in rural areas, and more importantly, people have a fundamental right to have access to those services.

So what are the reasons for the gap?

<1000 days to the MDGs: Data Dashboards to Monitor the last Stretch

Johan Mistiaen's picture

Data on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) indicator trends for developing countries and for different groups of countries are curated in the World Development Indicator (WDI) database.  Each year we use these data in the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) to track progress on the MDGs.  Many colleagues, as well as non-Bank staff, approach us on a weekly basis with questions regarding where their region, or country, or sector stands in regard to achieving the core MDGs.  Oftentimes in the same breath, they will also ask us whether or when we expect that a particular country or region will meet a certain MDG.  

With less than 1,000 days remaining to the MDG deadline, work on the Post-2015 agenda is in full swing. In response to the growing demand for additional info about GMR analytics and the underlying data, we developed a suite of open and interactive data diagnostics dashboards available at:  Below is an extract which summarizes the progress status towards meeting various MDGs among countries in various regions, income and other groups.  Select different indicators and highlight categories of progress status to interact with the visualization.


3 Innovative Ways to Manage Rural Water Supply

Meleesa Naughton's picture
With 70% of the world's extreme poor living in rural areas, and improved water access still lacking for close to 768 million people around the world, investing in safe and sustainable drinking water for rural populations is important to our goal of eradicating extreme poverty within our generation.

When compared to urban water supply, rural areas present a different set of challenges:

Often, the cost per capita of constructing water systems is higher in rural than in urban areas, due to a smaller population which is scattered over a large area. This, in turn, leads to high operating costs, to be recovered by fewer users.

Most importantly, there may not always be an obvious institution to take the responsibility of managing and operating the system after construction. This institutional vacuum leads to poor collection of water fees, and ultimately to poor operation and maintenance of the rural water systems.