Thousands of water development practitioners have begun to descend upon Stockholm for World Water Week, the annual knowledge-sharing event hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute. It was raining earlier today in Sweden’s capital. But some parts of the world have suffered through unprecedented high temperatures and drought. The drought in the US can be seen from space, as described in this Wired magazine article. This drought has led to damages to, and drops in, yields of crops of maize and soybeans, for which the US is the largest exporter in the world. It has also meant higher food prices.
Water is precious to our lives and livelihoods; we need it for food, drink, energy, health, and the environment. I often talk about Water using a capital “W” because it implies all of these things through its uses: agriculture, domestic consumption, hydro- and other- power generation methods, safe sanitation and hygiene, and water resources management.
The fact is we have to start managing our Water better if we want a world free of poverty.
Investments in various usages of water are achieving results in improving the lives of poor people in developing countries. But the situation affecting 2.5 billion people today without sanitation is more stark. And stresses such as rapid urbanization, food and energy insecurity, and climate change are stressing all water uses. For example, cities in developing countries will face meeting the demand of 70 million more people each year over the next 20 years. By 2030 we will need 45% more water just to meet our food needs.
So how can we manage Water better? There are several ways the World Bank and Water and Sanitation Program are proposing our colleagues consider in answering this question.
· Managing Water better between countries. This week a new World Bank report identifies the barriers preventing countries from cooperating on Water they share across boundaries. Cooperating on Water helps maximize benefits.
· Managing Water better at national scale. A new Water and Sanitation Program report shares the components and actions that need to be in place in order to successfully scale up sanitation access for people living in rural areas.
· Managing Water globally. Another area we’re learning more about is monitoring. What and why should we monitor? Who should do it? I’ll be giving a keynote speech at a session starting in minutes. (For those readers in Stockholm it’s at 17:45 in room K23).
I encourage you to offer comments and feedback and wish you a happy World Water Week.