We know that water and sanitation services do not always recover their costs from tariffs. So, if communities or governments are to maintain the infrastructure properly, they depend on the public budget. And those expenditures must be predictable and transparent.To take a closer look at this issue, the World Bank analyzed public expenditure on water supply and sanitation from fifteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, assessing how much public money was budgeted for the sector and on what it was spent.
Las Vegas is extreme in many ways, perhaps in no way more than in its water management. We were delighted to host 'Water Czar' Patricia Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Las Vegas Valley Water District, to hear how Las Vegas has completely transformed the way it manages water services.
- The World Region
The 6th World Water Forum was very intense and there is much to reflect on, but one memory stands out.
During the final two-hour session, Making Commitments and Mobilising Resources for Integrated Sanitation—Achieving Improvements at Scale, eighteen speakers had just five minutes each to summarize our collective insights on working at scale. Afterwards, Margaret Catley Carlson, former chair of the Global Water Partnership, expressed how happy she was with the summary.
UNICEF and WHO's recent report on Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation brought both good and bad news. The good news: 88% of the world’s population now has access to an improved drinking water source. The bad news: the world is still off-track to meet the Millennium Development Goal for sanitation. In this blog post published by the Center for Global Development, Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development, and Claire Chase, an evaluation specialist with the Water and Sanitation Program, examine whether an increased focus on sanitation will ironically lead to further neglect of hygiene, and second, which sector should hold responsibility for scaling up access to sanitation.
The session on Human Right to Water has led to constructive debate and dialogue. More interestingly, discussion on whether the human right to water implies providing water for free is no longer part of the mainstream debate. We have moved beyond this dichotomy and are now focused on figuring out how to make it work, while recognizing the costs involved.
There were many take-away messages. We need to operationalize the definition of the human right to water, develop more specific indicators and targets for each dimension that makes up the human right to water, and work to ensure that targets and indicators are relevant for different country contexts. Questions such as How affordable is affordable?, How safe is safe?, and How available is available? will differ between countries.
In a session on water’s role in food security at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, the director of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Mr. Alexander Mueller, has just outlined water's role in meeting the world's food challenges in the most graphic way. By 2050, when the global population is expected to reach nine billion, the world will need to produce 60-70% more food to meet the needs of a larger number of people whose consumption patterns are influenced by higher incomes and increased urbanization. At current rates of water usage in agriculture, that would require an additional 5,500km2 of water. That would mean having to find the amount of water that is stored in Egypt’s Aswan Dam 55 times every year.
At the World Water Forum in Marseille, I participated in a session on innovative ways to finance water for the poor. Most of the ideas proposed were good, including testing Output-Based Aid, improvements to the water tariff structure, and a sanitation fee on the water bill.Then the organizers asked for ideas and the discussion was opened for plenary...
In a session on Financing Water for All, Ian Banda, CEO of the Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company, said that poor people who are not connected to the network in the Copperbelt towns in Zambia pay their local vendor 10 to 12 times more for water than poor and rich people pay to the utility. Juergen, from the International Secretariat for Water, a Canadian NGO, found that charging for water is immoral.
Water is at the crux of several development challenges, from health impacts related to poor sanitation and drinking water, to food and energy shortages caused by poor water management. We’ve also heard leaders such as US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton describe water as a means for peace.
And investments in water are working. Last week, UNICEF and WHO announced that over 2 billion people gained access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2010, meeting the Millennium Development Goal for increased access to water three years ahead of target. During this same timeframe, 1.8 billion people gained access to improved sanitation.
Gender plays a crucial role in developing countries’ ability to ensure improved water and sanitation services are delivered to all citizens. According to the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, when services fail, women and girls are disproportionately affected.
This year, the World Bank/Water and Sanitation Program’s calendar depicts water and sanitation challenges from a gender perspective to call attention to some of the social norms that result from, and reinforce poor service quality. Take a look. Images can convey a thousand words--and speak for billions of people.