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How can we ensure that we build water and climate resilient cities?

Diego Juan Rodriguez's picture

The World Bank at World Water Week 2015

As population and economic growth bump up against finite—and increasingly degraded—water resources, competition between agricultural, industrial, and municipal water uses increases, putting stress on existing water sources. This stress is felt most acutely in urban areas, particularly among the urban poor.
Moreover, urban water management systems are inefficient, leading to an uneven quantity and availability of water and related services. In addition, urban water management must consider the effects of climate change, including rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, and climate variability, on water resource availability.

Addressing these challenges requires building resilience not only in cities’ physical infrastructures but also in their social architecture, governance structures, financial systems, and ecosystems. A resilient city can adapt to changing conditions and withstand shocks while still providing essential services.

The case for solar water pumps

Richard Colback's picture

The cost of solar technology has come down, way down, making it is a viable way to expand access to energy for hundreds of millions of people living in energy poverty. For farmers in developing countries, the growing availability of solar water pumps offers a viable alternative to system dependent on fossil fuel or grid electricity. While relatively limited, experience in several countries shows how solar irrigation pumps can make farmers more resilient against the erratic shifts in rainfall patterns caused by climate change or the unreliable supply and high costs of fossil fuels needed to operate water pumps. Experience also suggests a number of creative ways that potential water resource trade-offs can be addressed.

Water: At a Tipping Point

Junaid Kamal Ahmad's picture

The World Bank at World Water Week 2015

The Stockholm World Water Week’s focus on “Water for Development” comes at an opportune time. Water as a sector in world affairs is reaching a tipping point. Over the next two decades and more, the global push for food and energy security and for sustaining urbanization will place new and increasing demands on the water sector. 

Ours is a world of ‘thirsty agriculture’ and ‘thirsty energy’ competing with the needs of ‘thirsty cities.’ At the same time, climate change may potentially worsen the situation by increasing water stress as well as extreme events, reminding us that the water and climate nexus can no longer be a side event at global climate talks. All of this is happening in a context where the important agenda of access to services – despite the impressive gains over the past several decades – remains an unfinished agenda, requiring an urgent push if we are to fulfill the promise of universal access.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture


World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Democracy, voting and public opinion in the Arab world: New research evidence
Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University
In 2002 the United Nations issued a much-discussed report highlighting the lack of progress in Arab countries relative to other developing regions, and there has continued to be scrutiny of various social, political and economic indicators there. But a combination of closed regimes, highly nuanced cultural norms and burgeoning areas of conflict often make it difficult to interpret complex political trends and events. The available data relating to perceived changes in public attitudes must be read carefully, with the conflicting results of the 2011 Arab Spring standing as a stark reminder of this complexity. Still, a variety of studies published in 2015 help shed light on emerging trends relating to elections and public opinion in the Arab world, which continues to go through a state of upheaval and transition. Interpreting voter intentions, attitudes and outcomes is particularly difficult in regimes that are neither fully democratic nor totalitarian: Where citizens are not necessarily forced to participate, and yet many turn out to vote despite the fact that the process is highly unlikely to influence the ultimate outcome of the election. A 2015 study published in the journal Comparative Political Studies, “Elections in the Arab World: Why Do Citizens Turn Out?” seeks to explain voter turnout in such situations under authoritarian regimes in Arab countries.
Open data ‘not enough to improve lives’
Governments in developing countries must ensure the statistics they publish can be used to improve citizens’ lives, practitioners told SciDev.Net following an open data meeting. Liz Carolan, the international development manager at host organisation the Open Data Institute (ODI), said countries should instead start with real-world problems and then work out how data can be part of the solution. “A government might say: ‘We put the data on the web, that’s enough’ — but it’s not,” she said. “You could not get away with that”, especially in countries where internet connectivity and literacy are low and it is difficult for people to access the data in the first place.  Ivy Ong, outreach lead at government data provider Open Data Philippines, added: “Do not be blinded by the bright and shiny milestone of developing and launching an open data portal.”

Campaign Art: Water is... Life

Roxanne Bauer's picture

People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

Did you know that more people in rural India have access to phones than to safe drinking water? It is estimated that only 18% of the total rural population of 833 million have access to safe, treated water while 41% of the rural population, or 346 million people, own mobile phones.
While access to drinking water in India has increased over the past decade, the tremendous adverse impact of unsafe water on health continues. Every year, about 600,000 Indian children die because of diarrhea or pneumonia, often caused by toxic water and poor hygiene, according to Unicef.

Likewise, did you know that more than 40% of Ghana's 25 million people lack access to safe water. Due to drinking contaminated water, diarrheal disease is the third most commonly reported illness at health centers across the country and 25% of all deaths in children under the age of five are attributed to diarrhea.
Clearly, water is a ticket to better health. This short video from the Safe Water Network provides insight into what water is and how important it is to community and individual health outcomes through a succession of images and statements. The music was written and performed by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club.

VIDEO: Water is...


Senegal shifts its thinking: Context is everything

Oumar Diallo's picture
Editor's note: this is the second in a two-part series. Click here to read the first part, "Senegal shifts its thinking: Rural water delivery moves to private operators."
Photo: flickr/Julien Harnels

In the rural water sector in Senegal, as with many parts of the world that have experienced tremendous changes, context is everything. Rarely does one single act spur a shift at the government level; many elements combine to prompt a change in approach.

The PPP team in Senegal was privileged to be able to develop a brand-new system for rural water delivery in Senegal (see previous post here), but our activity was just one contributing factor in a much larger national and even international effort. The political context in Senegal, along with sustained attention to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), created the right atmosphere for this PPP.   
Here are five important elements that came together to make Senegal’s paradigm-shifting PPP possible:
  1. Government officials’ forward-thinking views. Coming up with an original plan for the delivery of rural water depended on zoning changes. Our group’s internal study showed that dividing the country into three zones would make it possible to cluster services. Government’s willingness to consider clustering pipe systems across 14 regions was critical, because it made support from the private sector a viable option.

5 potential benefits of integrating ICTs in your water and sanitation projects

Fadel Ndaw's picture

A new study was recently carried out by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank on how to unlock the potential of Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) to improve Water and Sanitation Services in Africa[1]. According to a Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) report[2], in 2014 52% of all global mobile money deployments were in Sub Saharan Africa and 82% of Africans had access to GSM coverage. Comparatively, only 63% had access to improved water and 32% had access to electricity. This early adoption of mobile-to-web technologies in Africa provides a unique opportunity for the region to bridge the gap between the lack of data and information on existing water and sanitation assets and their current management — a barrier for the extension of the services to the poor.

Senegal shifts its thinking: Rural water delivery moves to private operators

Oumar Diallo's picture
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Overnight success takes years, as the saying goes – and that’s certainly the case for the delivery of water to rural regions of Senegal. On July 2, 2015, the Government of Senegal celebrated the signing of its first lease (affermage) contract in the rural water sector, the result of a partnership that marks a significant and promising shift in rural water management for the country. This success in Senegal was years in the making, dating back about 15 years to the start of Senegal’s reform process.

Though Senegal’s situation is unique, insights and lessons from the project can inform and strengthen other rural water PPPs as well.
What changed, and why it matters 
In Senegal’s earlier period of reform, government officials looked to community-based management for 1,500 rural water piped systems to serve the 7.5 million people in need of water services across 14 rural regions. (Senegal is divided into three large geographic zones – North, South and Central – with ongoing transactions in smaller areas like Gorom Lampsar and Notto-Diosmone-Palmarin, known as GL-NDP, and the Senegal River region.) At that time, officials thought this would be the best way to eventually scale up management of the rural water system. By 2010, though, discussions between the World Bank Group and the Government of Senegal pushed reform forward by including more private sector management, which also aimed to increase sustainability of the system. 

PPP-powered access to water — and much more

Melvin Tan's picture
Note: This blog entry was adapted from an original submission for the PPIAF Short Story Contest. It is part of a series highlighting the role of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in projects and other transformative work around the world.

One of the most salient features of a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement is the flexibility to use out-of-the-box solutions in resolving the many challenges in day-to-day operations. As a result, the PPP setup gives operators the liberty to come up with innovative solutions for more effective and efficient delivery of the most basic services.
Location of Laguna Province in the
Philippines. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the Philippines, Laguna Water — a joint venture company formed as a result of a PPP between the Provincial Government and Manila Water Philippine Ventures formerly known AAA Water Corporation — is benefitting immensely from that flexibility since it took over the operations of the province-run water system in 2009. Although primarily tasked to improve the provision of water and wastewater in the three cities of Biñan, Sta. Rosa and Cabuyao — collectively known as concession area — Laguna Water’s sustainable business model allows it to participate on matters related to community development (including job generation), as well as programs centered on health, safety and environmental protection.
As a staunch advocate of sustainability, Laguna Water takes pride in having significantly improved access to piped, clean and affordable water to 62 percent of the population of the concession area— a far cry from the 14 percent when it started its operations in 2009. The joint venture’s PPP framework has been instrumental in putting in place water infrastructure that provides easier access and better services to customers. Today, Laguna Water is the biggest water service provider in the entire province, and is also ahead in its service-level targets on coverage, water quality and water loss reduction. 
Here are some details about our PPP-empowered approach.

What happens when the playground is also the potty?

Emily C. Rand's picture

Imagine you are a busy mother scrubbing your laundry next to the public water stand near your yard. You realize your two year old — who is playing in the dirt — has to go to the toilet. What do you do? Chances are good you might just let them go on the ground somewhere nearby.

According to a recent analysis by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank Global Water Practice's Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) in key countries, over 50 percent of households with children under age three reported that the feces of their children were unsafely disposed of the last time they defecated. What this really means is that children are literally pooping where they are and their feces are left there, in the open. Meanwhile, the feces of other children in the neighborhood are put or rinsed in a ditch or drain, or buried or thrown into solid waste streams that keep the feces near the household environment.