- Osama Hamad, Lead Water Supply & Sanitation Specialist, World Bank Water Global Practice
- Heba Yaken Aref Ahmed, Operations Analyst, World Bank Water Global Practice
- Sara Mohamed Mahmoud Aly Soliman, Consultant, World Bank Water Global Practice
In a rural area about 60 miles north of Cairo lies the town of Toukh El Aqlam, situated on Egypt’s busy Cairo-Alexandria agricultural road. The region has long-suffered from a lack of sanitation services, creating a serious impact on the health and social development of its inhabitants. On October 16th, 2018, the World Bank’s Program for Results (PforR) team and representatives from Egypt’s Ministry of Housing visited Toukh El Aqlam, where 30,000 citizens now benefit from 5,000 new sanitation connections in rural Dakahliya governorate.
The Dakahliya Water and Sanitation Company (WSC) is one of three WSCs participating in the World Bank-supported Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Program (SRSSP), along with Beheira and Sharkiya. Approved by the Bank in July 2015, the Program is already delivering results on the ground in its efforts to achieve sustainable access to sanitation services, reduce water pollution in the Nile Delta, and improve water sector governance.
Magnificent. Splendid. That was the only way to describe the intricate web of waterways, bridges, road, and rail transport that we gazed out on as our bus transported us from Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, to our hotel. The learning from our Knowledge Exchange had started even before the event had officially begun! All along our winding drive, the infrastructure on display demonstrated an appreciation and understanding of the importance of working with, rather than against, nature. Green Growth, they call it.
It was an apt introduction. That’s because the Korean Green Growth Trust Fund, in collaboration with the World Bank Water Global Practice, had organized a Knowledge Exchange event that would focus on water-related issues; how to mainstream green growth concepts in water resource management; and water and sanitation service provision.
The global water crisis is a crisis of too much, too polluted and too little. At the World Bank, our job is to find and implement solutions to tackle this crisis. In the “Water Solutions” blog series, you’ll read about World Bank-supported projects in different countries which demonstrated solutions to the world’s most pressing water issues, to fulfill our vision for a water-secure world.
It is rainy season again in the Philippines, and typhoons and tropical storms are hitting the country again at regular intervals. The worst such event this year so far in Metro Manila occurred the weekend of August 11-12, when Tropical Storm Karding (international name Yagi) brought excessive monsoon rains and submerged large areas of Metro Manila, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuation centers. It was not just the rains that caused the severe flooding as solid waste was equally to blame. Many waterways and drains are clogged with solid waste, which does not allow water to freely flow to outlets and pumping stations.
Camels can walk on water. I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. And if you don’t believe me, well, just look at the picture below to see camels walking on water in Somaliland!
Yes, it looks like sand, but there is water right underneath their hooves. This is the brilliance of sand dams and subsurface dams, where sand effectively serves as a temporary reservoir cover, protecting the precious water underneath from evaporating under the blazing sun. Sand dams provide low-cost, low-maintenance, and replicable rainwater harvesting technology.
In our previous blog, we looked at how water and sanitation came to be recognized as a human right, and what that means in practice. Today, we look at how formal and informal institutional practices influence the realization of the right to water and sanitation, as well as how the World Bank is contributing towards solutions through the WASH Poverty Diagnostic.
The water and sanitation sector includes and relies on a vast array of institutions – from village water committees to urban utilities, health extension workers to ministries of health, and community irrigation associations to river basin offices. Helping build the capacity of and roles played by these institutions is a critical element of the Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) to water and sanitation. Formal and informal institutions influence the way in which WASH access-expansion programs are designed, planned, funded, implemented, and monitored. As such, they play fundamental roles in delivering water and sanitation for all.
Millions of small-scale farmers face significant challenges, including food and water insecurity, dependence on unpredictable rain, and increasing frequency of natural disasters. While a lot of progress has been made on sustainable agriculture, there is much work yet to be done to meet rising food and water demands in a resource finite world – in addition to improving the lives of small-scale farmers. Farmer-led irrigation offers opportunities for inclusive, sustainable, and positive change. However, urgent international commitment to and investments in farmer-led irrigation are required to tackle the water and food challenges of our time.
It may have taken decades, but access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is now firmly recognized as a human right. How did this happen? What does it mean in practice? And how can it help the rural poor gain access?
In July of 2010, the United Nations General Assembly “explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights” in Resolution A/RES/64/292. Despite these commitments, investments to date have largely proved insufficient to guarantee universal access. Today, 844 million people lack access to safe drinking water, and more than twice that number (2.3 billion) do not have access to adequate sanitation. Take the example of Mozambique. New World Bank research, the ‘WASH Poverty Diagnostic’, reveals that access to improved water on premises could be as low as 32 percent in rural areas, and as high as 69 percent in urban areas. The research finds that inequitable access is due to poor governance and lack of specific attention to the poor and vulnerable; not only it is a matter of life and death, water and sanitation are basic rights.
Perhaps one of the most exciting developments coming out of the SIWI World Water Week in Stockholm at the end of August was the large number of sessions and debates around the financing issue. In essence, the discussion on how we will collectively raise enough funds to close the financing gap was prominent in many discussions.
It is worth noting that some progress has been made. The issue is now prominent in all the major policy discussions with stakeholders. There is an acknowledgement that domestic finance, rather than international resources, are key to addressing the issue.
New York City faced a challenge in the 1990s: the city needed a new water filtration system to serve its nearly 8 million people. But the prospect of spending $6 to 10 billion on a new water treatment plant, and another $100 million on annual operating costs, was daunting. So, city officials took a closer look at the source of their water—the Catskill Mountains.
Water from the Catskills flows through 120 miles of forests, farmlands and towns to reach New York City. When that landscape is healthy, it acts as a natural purifying system, but certain development and agricultural practices can result in impaired water quality. For city officials, reaching out to local farmers and landowners and compensating them to restore and conserve their lands in the watershed, combined with some land acquisition, proved to be significantly cheaper than building and operating a new treatment plant.