World Bank: policy review calls for integrated water management and support for sanitation

Following a mid-cycle review of its 2003 water strategy [1], the World Bank says it is moving from stand-alone water supply projects to those that link water use to resource management. The report, endorsed by the World Bank Board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE), also directs the Bank Group to provide, with partners, improved sanitation to the 2.6 billion people who still live without it, in both rural areas and fast-growing urban slums.

The strategy review found significant improvement both in funding levels and project performance, with satisfactory ratings consistently higher than the Bank-wide average of 75 per cent. The Bank’s water commitments will continue to rise to an estimated US$ 21-25 billion for the coming three years.

Some other important new strategic directions covered in the review include:

  • scaling-up of support for hydropower
  • more focus on water for climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • increased assistance to agricultural water management; and
  • exploring opportunities for private financing for and corporatisation of water utilities

The scaling-up of its water activities has led to a recruitment drive, so that now the Bank employs 158 sector specialists. Nevertheless, there are several areas like (surprisingly) economics and finance, and wastewater reuse where expertise is missing. To compensate for this the Bank set up the Water Anchor which can call on experts as short-term consultants, through various technical support facilities. One of these is SWAT, the Sanitation, Hygiene and Wastewater Support Service. Since its inception in 2005, SWAT has committed about US$ 1 million for operational support in 28 countries and 33 projects. The service has influenced a total sanitation and wastewater investment valued over US$ 1.1 billion.

[1] Vandycke, N. (2010). Sustaining water for all in a changing climate : World Bank Group implementation progress report of the Water Resources Sector Strategy. Washington, DC, USA, World Bank. xiii, 105 p. Download full report

Related web sites: World Bank – Water | SWAT

Source: World Bank, 31 Aug 2010

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