News headlines often feature stories of water scarcity challenges and increasing competition for water. So it is clear that we need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of water systems globally – especially in the realm of irrigation management, the water we use to grow our food. However, a data gap exists about evapotranspiration (ET) which, if fixed, would help us understand the amount of water available and used in irrigation and would help us to have more accurate water balances at the basin level.
In Haiti, lack of access to quality water and sanitation has hit the population severely, with the poorest citizens suffering the most. Between 1990 and 2015, the share of the population with access to potable water decreased from 62% to 52%. Sanitation is also a critical issue; over the same period, access to enhanced sanitation installations only increased by 1% among the poorest in the rural areas. Among the urban poor, it actually declined by 3%.
While the lack of clean water and sanitation has been a major problem in Haiti for years, the situation became dire in 2010 after a massive earthquake destroyed many of the existing sanitation systems. As the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards, with more than 90% of the population at risk. Almost 60% of Haitians live below the poverty line of $2.41 a day, and millions struggle to find clean drinking water.
The water and sanitation sector, however, now has solid means to achieve progress thanks to a close collaboration with the Government and to the efforts of the Direction nationale de l’eau potable et de l’assainissement (DINEPA): Tools have been designed to assess the situation, to map the available resources, and to address the challenges of the water and sanitation sector with a clear roadmap.
On January 29, a one-day workshop was organized by the World Bank in Port-au-Prince to present the findings of the latest studies focusing on the water and sanitation sectors and funded by the Bank and the DINEPA. After several years of dialogue and partnership between the Haitian Government and the donors’ community, this day of exchanges allowed stakeholders to take stock of the work accomplished so far.
Cities are growing at unprecedented rates, with over two thirds of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050 (UN DESA 2018), and city governments struggle to keep up with the increasing demand for urban services, including sanitation. This unplanned growth and the resulting dense informal housing hinder the provision of such services. Burgeoning informal settlements are characterized by poor political representation and challenging physical and topographical conditions, such as inaccessibility, rocky soil, high water tables and periodic flooding, which make the provision of basic services especially difficult. Cities require sanitation approaches for such settings which can complement, or precede the arrival of, traditional sewers and conventional on-site solutions, and thus contribute to the realization of the sanitation-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This thinking underpins the core principles of Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) – encouraging cities to think about a diversity of technical solutions that provide services along the whole sanitation service chain, combining different approaches to better respond to the challenging realities faced by cities.
With a population exceeding 3 million, only 10% of Addis residents are connected to the sewerage system and an estimated 10% continue to practice open defecation. As a result, in 2007 the Addis Ababa Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA) began a pilot to build approximately 200 shared sanitation facilities. After the pilot’s success, AAWSA took the next bold step of aiming to build 3,000 shared sanitation facilities, more than 600 of which have been successfully completed since 2016. These shared sanitation facilities include public facilities serving high-traffic urban areas and communal latrines shared between clusters of households in low-income communities.
Although the utility AAWSA has over a decade of experience in designing and implementing public and communal latrines, the learning continues as they maintain an adaptive learning mindset and as they integrate innovation in this aspect of their work. Below we present some key learnings from their decade’s journey of providing improved sanitation services for the population of Addis.
Water, climate, and finance know no borders. This brings both challenges and opportunities. When it comes to freshwater, a majority of the world’s surface water flows in transboundary basins, spanning multiple federal states and countries. At the same time, most impacts from climate change are felt through the global water cycle and sub-cycles. Thus, transboundary cooperation is crucial for strengthening climate resilience. And, when done appropriately, riparian countries and river basin organizations (RBOs) can harness their unique attributes to secure adaptation financing from a range of sources.
In our daily lives we are bombarded by offers to get more for less. And we respond accordingly as we strive to balance our household budgets. This saves us a few dollars here and there, perhaps hundreds of dollars on a big-ticket item, and we get to feel good about ourselves and our financial skills.
This is a question that is difficult to answer.
As practitioners we often focus our attention on operational efficiency. What were this year’s costs compared to last year’s? Is efficiency increasing or decreasing? There are suites of tools to give technical comfort to back up such assessments – from simple ratio analyses through to more sophisticated approaches such as econometric modeling and Data Envelope Analysis.
But what about capital efficiency? The assessment is not so simple as, in most cases, this is a prospective assessment – that is to say, a comparison of what was spent compared to a hypothetical of what might have been spent. It is rare to have a side by side comparison. Yet in the water sector, annualized capital costs can be equal to the annual operating costs. So, when we focus on operational efficiency, we are in fact only looking at half the story.
At the same time, we talk about mobilizing more finance to fill the gap between historic investment levels and projected investment needs. Yes, there will always be a financing gap in all countries around the world. However, whilst thinking about bridging that financing gap (“Maximizing Finance for Development” comes to mind), shouldn’t we also be thinking about how to reduce the financing gap by being more efficient in our use of capital?
It’s often said that a picture paints a thousand words. If that’s true then, 18 years since its inception, the Water Cartoon Calendar has produced enough material for an epic series of novels. A fixture of our water and sanitation products every year since 2000, it features cartoons combining humor with serious messages about important issues.
The calendar began at the start of this millennium under the auspices of the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP). Last year, ten partner agencies and the World Bank’s Water Global Practice launched the new Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP), an integrated platform for working alongside countries as they rise to their next water challenge. The GWSP builds on the foundations of the WSP as well as its other predecessor, the Water Partnership Program (WPP), and the calendar continues this legacy.
The global water crisis is a crisis of too much, too polluted and too little. At the World Bank, our job is to find and implement solutions to tackle this crisis. In the “Water Solutions” blog series, you’ll read about World Bank-supported projects in different countries which demonstrated solutions to the world’s most pressing water issues, to fulfill our vision for a water-secure world.
Since 2015, when armed conflict began, Yemen's water and sanitation infrastructure has suffered significant damages. Direct attacks on the infrastructure have been exacerbated by the lack of energy (electricity and fuel), spare parts, operation and maintenance funds, and three years of unpaid salaries of civil servant staff. This confluence of factors has undermined the robustness of water and sanitation systems in Yemen and contributed to the worst cholera outbreak in history. According to the World Health Organization, as of November 11, 2018, 1,300,495 suspected cholera cases and 2,609 deaths have been reported.
The upsurge of cholera cases is attributed to several risk factors, including a disruption of basic water and sanitation services, contaminated water sources in affected communities, an inability to treat sewage due to non-functional wastewater treatment plants, and the absence of garbage collection systems. More than 70 percent of the population (22 million people) requires assistance to access safe drinking water and sanitation. Basic water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure is on the verge of total collapse, and many internally displaced persons (IDPs) are at a particularly high risk, due to overcrowded shelters and settlements with inadequate water and sanitation facilities.