Photo: Courtesy of Safe Water Network
World Water Day is always a good time to take stock of where we are in achieving the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Most PPPs relate to relatively large investments in major infrastructure run by utilities. But in the developing world’s rapidly growing small towns and urban peripheries, we need something else.
Enter safe (also called small) water enterprises, an exciting group of dedicated social entrepreneurs who are beginning to gain traction providing high quality water to communities not served by utilities. For example, our friends at Safe Water Network recently announced they are now serving more than a million people in India and Ghana (more about that in this blog.) A 2017 report by Dalberg suggested a potential market of 3.9 billion people for safe water enterprises.
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.
In 2015, leaders of 193 countries formed an ambitious plan to guide global development action for the next 15 years by agreeing on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Four years after their launch, the World Bank’s expertise in development data and its large repository of development indicators has played an important role in helping track progress made towards the achievement of the SDGs.
How does SDG monitoring work and how is the World Bank involved?
To monitor the 17 goals and 169 associated targets, a framework of 230+ indicators was developed by the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), a group of UN Member States with international agencies as observers. Different international agencies were assigned as “custodians” of the SDG targets. In this capacity, the custodian agencies work with national statistical offices to develop methodologies for indicators to measure progress on the SDGs. The agencies also work with countries to compile data for SDG indicators, which they submit to the UN Statistics Global SDG database.
The World Bank participates in IAEG-SDGs as an observer and is a custodian or co-custodian (with other agencies) for 20 indicators, and is involved in the development and monitoring of an additional 22 indicators. Altogether, the World Bank is formally engaged with the monitoring of 42 of the 230+ indicators. The indicators cover a wider range of topics in which the World Bank has expertise, including poverty and inequality, social protection, gender equality, financial access, remittances, health, energy, infrastructure, and so on.
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.
A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to visit the "Federico Boquín" water treatment plant and dam in Tegucigalpa, one of the main sources of water supply for the Honduran capital. As we walked beside the local Mayor, "Tito" Asfura, who accompanied us during the visit, we discussed the relevance of this resource.
The irony is that while these states have not contributed much to greenhouse emissions, as they produce very little, they may face some of the worst consequences.
As one of the lowest-lying countries in the world, with all its people living a few meters above sea level and over two-thirds of its critical infrastructure lying within 100 meters of the shoreline, a sea level rise of just a few meters will put the nation further at risk, endangering its relative prosperity.
Thankfully Maldives is beginning to turn the tide.
Yesterday I visited Fuvahmulah, in one of the southernmost atolls where the Mayor and the Ministry of Environment, have been working closely with local communities to manage the wetlands, critical for reducing climate change impacts.
I saw scores of young Maldivians enjoying the facilities and learning about conservation. A true win-win. Community participation has helped enhance the design and acceptability of this initiative.
Scaled up, such initiatives can have a transformational impact and it is imperative that the Government of Maldives take the lessons from this Bank supported initiative to 19 other atolls.
Creating a safer archipelago
The Indian Ocean tsunami that battered the islands in 2004 provided a glimpse of what can happen – a clear wake-up call.
The government responded by increasing its emphasis on building resilience in infrastructure and providing its people with early warnings in the event of an underwater earthquake.
Today, in the Greater Malé region, the reclaimed island of Hulhumalé is being developed with better sea defenses and elevated buildings from where people can be evacuated as needed.
The government is also raising people’s understanding of the causes and effects of natural disasters, particularly those that come on suddenly, such as tsunamis and flooding.