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.
Still, that leaves much work ahead to ensure the remaining 2.5 billion people gain access to safe water and sanitation, and more broadly, to ensure water assets are managed openly, equitably, and valued to sustain over the long run. We're learning from experience that it will take a combination of hard infrastructure interventions such as financing drainage and flood control systems, and soft interventions like removing institutional barriers and fostering behavior change...all within a local context of innovation, gender equity, and political openness.
The World Bank Group water practice , which includes the Water and Sanitation Program , is launching The Water Blog to foster collaboration, innovation, and knowledge exchange on water for development, including food (agriculture), drinking water and household use, sanitation and hygiene, energy, ecosystems and environment, industry, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and disaster risk management.
The Water Blog will include opinions and insight from water experts working on the ground and around the world, but we will also reach out to experts from other sectors such as Health and Information, Communications, and Technology, to broaden the discussion and make new linkages (such as the WaterHackathon ).
This week, we will feature posts contributed by World Bank Group staff participating in the 6th World Water Forum  in Marseille, France. Stay tuned for more  next week, leading up to March 22, World Water Day .
We encourage your comments and participation to help us raise challenging issues and to evaluate and improve this forum over time.
We need water to live, and countries must manage water in order to grow sustainably. We hope this blog will contribute to strengthening the dialogue, body of evidence, and knowledge that governments can use to meet their goals.
Follow us on Twitter @WSPWorldBank.
Image: Lucia Boki fetches water at a borehole in the village of Bilinyang, near Juba, South Sudan. Photo ©Arne Hoel/World Bank.