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Reaching the last mile in Latin America and the Caribbean: How to provide sustainable water supply and sanitation to Indigenous Peoples

Clementine Marie Stip's picture
Young Wayúu girls go fetch water in La Guajira, Colombia

Extending the human right of access to water supply and sanitation (WSS) services to Indigenous Peoples represents the final step for many countries to reach universal coverage in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). As the 7th Rural Water Supply Network Forum is underway in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, we must remind ourselves what “inclusion” means in the WSS sector. Poverty levels among Indigenous Peoples are more than twice those found among other Latin Americans, and they are 10 to 25 percent less likely to have access to piped water and 26 percent less likely to have access to improved sanitation.

With dire consequences on health, productivity, and well-being, these access gaps also exemplify two shortcomings of past engagement with Indigenous Peoples in the WSS sector: Indigenous territories have often been overlooked, and, even where investments specifically target Indigenous Peoples, WSS service sustainability remains a large issue. Several barriers explain this: investors’ and service providers’ lack of understanding of Indigenous Peoples' unique social and cultural characteristics, limited engagement with Indigenous authorities and attention to their priorities and aspirations, and the remoteness and difficult access to many Indigenous communities, to name a few. More generally, we need a tailored approach that responds to these challenges through institutional development, partnership with Indigenous authorities, and local capacity building for WSS services management in order to overcome the existing system that incentivizes physical interventions in easily accessible areas with limited social accompaniment. 

3 myths about social inclusion in water

Maitreyi Bordia Das's picture
The World Bank at World Water Week 2016

Starting this weekend, Stockholm will host the largest annual congregation of water aficionados, during World Water Week 2016.  It is an opportune moment to reflect on what social inclusion means for water, and on three stylized myths in the “mainstream” discourse, although there are also influential social movements that present alternative views.

Myth 1
Inclusion in water is about poverty or being “pro-poor”? Social inclusion may be about the poor but it needn’t necessarily be so.  

Where water and climate change meet

Water Communications's picture

This week, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, or COP21, will gather countries that want to take action for the climate. A central topic of these discussions will focus on the intersection of water and climate change.

Combating climate change is everyone’s business. Reducing emissions and investing in renewable energy, improving city planning and building design standards, developing more efficient transportation, and reducing deforestation (among others) all play key roles in mitigating the effects of climate change. At the same time, countries, and industries, will also need to adapt to changes in the climate as they unfold. Since climate change will significantly increase the variability of rainfall, different parts of the world will become more vulnerable to floods or droughts. 

“Water scarcity and variability pose significant risks to all economic activities, including food and energy production, manufacturing and infrastructure development,“ said Laura Tuck, World Bank Group Vice President for Sustainable Development during a recent press conference at COP21. “Poor water management can exacerbate the effects of climate change on economic growth, but if water is managed well it can go a long way to neutralizing the negative impacts.”

Better together: Toilets and nutrition

Claire Chase's picture
​Studies show children grow taller and perform better
on cognitive tests in communities where residents have
access to improved sanitation and do not defecate
in the open. Photo credit: World Bank

Microfinance for water and sanitation: How one small loan makes a huge difference

John Ikeda's picture
Photo Credit: Water.org via Flickr under Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license

This blog originally appeared on the The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) Microfinance Blog. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP is a global partnership of 34 leading organizations that seek to advance financial inclusion. The blog highlights a recent study which concludes that water and sanitation microfinance can be good for Microfinance Institutions, good for the development community, and -most importantly- good for borrowers and their families.

5 avantages potentiels de l'intégration des TIC dans vos projets d'eau et d'assainissement

Fadel Ndaw's picture
Also available in: English

Le Programme Eau et Assainissement (WSP) de la Banque mondiale vient de terminer une importante étude sur la façon de valoriser le potentiel des technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) pour 'améliorer les services d'eau et d'assainissement en Afrique. Selon un rapport du GSMA, en 2014, 52% de tous les déploiements d’outils de transfert d'argent via le téléphone mobile à l’échelle mondiale se trouvaient en Afrique subsaharienne et 82% des Africains avaient accès à une couverture GSM. En comparaison, seulement 63% avaient accès à l'eau potable et 32% à l'électricité. Cette adoption rapide de technologies-mobile en Afrique offre une occasion unique pour la région de faire face au manque criard de données et d'informations sur les infrastructures d'eau et d'assainissement existants et leur gestion actuelle - une barrière pour l'extension des services aux pauvres.

Innovative Finance in the Water and Sanitation Sector

Joel Kolker's picture

The World Bank at World Water Week 2015

As the global focus shifts to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and achieving universal access to water and sanitation, there will clearly be a need to mobilize private capital to help finance the necessary infrastructure. The Global Water Practice at the World Bank has been working with key public and private sector partners in over ten countries to mobilize domestic credit and address operating inefficiencies which negatively impact on the delivery of water and sanitation. To scale up (“billions to trillions”) it will be necessary to consider the incentives needed to attract and sustain such capital flows.

How Countries Can Improve Access to Water for Women

Bhuvan Bhatnagar's picture
Because of water’s multidimensional role in economic development and poverty reduction, addressing the constraints that women and girls face in accessing and managing water is essential for achieving impact. 




Challenges of gender inequality in water include:
  • Women are disproportionately underrepresented in water sector decision making at many levels.
  • Women and girls are often charged with domestic water collection, disadvantaging other spheres of life, such as education.
  • Men benefit disproportionally from economic opportunities generated by the capital-intensive nature of water development and management.
  • Women and girls have specific sanitation needs, both for managing menstruation and for protection against gender-based violence. 

5 potential benefits of integrating ICTs in your water and sanitation projects

Fadel Ndaw's picture
Also available in: Français

A new study was recently carried out by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank on how to unlock the potential of Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) to improve Water and Sanitation Services in Africa[1]. According to a Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) report[2], in 2014 52% of all global mobile money deployments were in Sub Saharan Africa and 82% of Africans had access to GSM coverage. Comparatively, only 63% had access to improved water and 32% had access to electricity. This early adoption of mobile-to-web technologies in Africa provides a unique opportunity for the region to bridge the gap between the lack of data and information on existing water and sanitation assets and their current management — a barrier for the extension of the services to the poor.

Sesame Street, World Bank apply behavioral and educational insight to scale up sanitation and hygiene

Stephen Sobhani's picture
Sesame Street’s Global Health Ambassador
Raya and math expert Count von Count at
World Bank HQ. Characters © Sesame
Workshop. All rights reserved. Photo
​© Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank

Stephen Sobhani, Sesame Workshop's Vice President, International, and Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Group Senior Director for Water, wrote a blog for The Huffington Post. Read an excerpt below and continue reading on The Huffington Post.

A bright, green global ambassador for life-saving hygiene habits from Sesame Street -- the world's largest informal educator of children. Unprecedented investments in water and sanitation from the World Bank Group -- the world's largest development financier. What do Sesame Street and the World Bank Group have in common? Far more than you think...

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