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Latin America & Caribbean

Government could cheaply encourage citizens to save water by doing this

Laura De Castro Zoratto's picture
This blog originally appeared on the World Bank's Governance for Development Blog, which informs and stimulates debate on how governments can help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. The blog highlights a recent study which shows that raising awareness about how much water individuals consume, and enabling them to compare their consumption with that of peers, can go a long way in helping to change behavior in the use of this finite resource.

Photo credit: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

Crises in access to water are making headlines around the world. Among difficult policy pathways to respond, convincing people to change their behavior and reduce their consumption can be one of the hardest.

This post gives us a promising picture from Belén, a small town in Costa Rica.  Of Belén’s 21,633 inhabitants, 99.3% have access to water service, but shortages are anticipated by 2030. Our recent study demonstrated that the government could cheaply encourage citizens to save water by enabling them to compare their consumption with that of their peers.

Ensuring robust water management strategies in Lima-Callão, Peru

Laura Bonzanigo's picture
Canto Grande, Lima, Peru. 
Photo Credit: Andrew Howson / Creative Commons

How can water resource agencies make smart investments to ensure long-term water reliability when the future is fraught with deep climate and economic uncertainty? Water resource agencies around the world are grappling with this question at a time of unprecedented water stress, growing demands, uncertain climate change, and limited budgets. We helped SEDAPAL, the water utility serving Lima, Peru, answer this question by drawing on state of the art methods for decision making under deep uncertainty.

Lima is home to approximately 9.8 million people. It is the fifth largest metropolitan area in Latin America. With average precipitation of just 6 mm per year, it is also the second largest desert city in the world. A rapidly growing population with approximately one million underserved urban poor, current water shortages, competition for water between sectors, wide rainfall variation due to El Niño effects, and long-term climate change impacts may leave the region under perpetual water stress.

Recognizing the urgency of Lima’s water situation, SEDAPAL has developed an aggressive multi-billion dollar Master Plan to implement 14 large and diverse infrastructural investments projects between now and 2040 at a total cost of US$2.7 billion. Together, the investments are designed to meet the 30 percent increase in water demand that SEDAPAL projects for the coming decades.

World Toilet Day: The link between gender equality and sanitation

Junaid Kamal Ahmad's picture

​​Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Group Senior Director for Water, and Caren Grown, World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender, wrote a blog for Thomson Reuters Foundation ahead of World Toilet Day. Read the blog below, which originally appeared in Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Advancing equality for women in developing countries is not only the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense.

Gender equality enhances productivity, improves well-being, and renders governing bodies more representative. And yet around the world, discriminatory laws, preferences, and social norms ensure that girls and women learn less, earn less, own less, enjoy far fewer opportunities to achieve their potential, and suffer disproportionately in times of scarcity or shock.

Galería fotográfica: Programa de monitoreo identifica principales obstáculos en suministro de agua y saneamiento en América Central

Also available in: English

MAPAS es una iniciativa regional que ayuda a los Gobiernos a identificar déficits de financiamiento y priorizar reformas, permitiendo a El Salvador, Honduras y Panamá cumplir con sus metas nacionales de agua y saneamiento.

In Photos: Monitoring Program Identifies Major Bottlenecks in Water and Sanitation Delivery in Central America

Also available in: Español

A regional initiative that assists governments in identifying funding gaps and prioritizing reforms is helping El Salvador, Honduras and Panama better meet their national goals for water and sanitation.

Photo credit: ANDA El Salvador

Silicon Valley: Where Innovation Meets Development

Sanitation Hackathon Team's picture

Sanitation Hackathon LogoThe Sanitation Hackathon & App Challenge three grand prize winners, mSchool, Taarifa, and SunClean, flew over from their home countries, Senegal, Tanzania, England, and Indonesia to attend the awards ceremony in Washington, DC. With a 64inch touchscreen provided by Microsoft, the teams showcased their apps to sanitation sector specialists at the WB-IMF side event on Investing in Sanitation.

Les toilettes aussi ont leurs applis !

Jose Luis Irigoyen's picture

Read English, Español

Personne n’ignore que l’essor rapide de l’accès à la téléphonie mobile a généré un nouveau support pour la prestation des services et la transmission de l’information, en particulier pour tous ceux qui vivent « au bas de la pyramide », soit avec moins de 1,25 dollar par jour. Notre défi, en tant que professionnels du développement, consiste à trouver des moyens pour exploiter la téléphonie mobile au profit de l’action citoyenne ; il s’agit de faire des citoyens des agents du changement, capables d’intervenir, dans leur communauté, sur les processus de développement et d’en prendre les manettes.

Retretes: Hay una aplicación móvil para eso

Jose Luis Irigoyen's picture


No es ningún secreto que el rápido aumento del acceso a los dispositivos móviles ha creado un nuevo vehículo para la obtención de información y servicios, en particular para las personas que están en la base de la pirámide, o quienes viven con menos de US$1,25 al día. El desafío que enfrentamos como profesionales del desarrollo es comprender cómo se pueden usar los teléfonos celulares para empoderar a los ciudadanos como agentes de cambio, de modo que puedan influir e impulsar los procesos de desarrollo en sus comunidades.

Toilets: There’s an App for That

Jose Luis Irigoyen's picture

It’s no secret that the rapid rise in access to mobile phones has created a new vehicle for the delivery of information and services, particularly for people at the base of the pyramid – or those who live on less than $1.25 a day. The challenge we, as development practitioners, face is understanding how to leverage mobile phones in ways that empower citizens as agents of change who can influence and drive development processes in their communities.

The U.S. Drought Monitor: A Sophisticated Tool, But Do Not Be Intimidated by It

Nate Engle's picture

Evaluating the existence and extent of droughts is not an easy task. Not only are droughts "slow-onset" events that creep into the physical, environmental, and social systems of a region, they also have effects that span numerous sectors of a society. The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), as recently described by Dr. Michael Hayes from the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) during a recent presentation at the World Bank, provides an example for other nations as they consider how to effectively manage this difficult endeavor of characterizing drought risks and impacts.