The World Bank last week released a progress report on the first phase of its Water Partnership Program (WPP), a trust fund supported by the governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Denmark that aims to bring “the best knowledge available to help countries solve their uniquely complex water challenges.”
The report, “Sharing Smart Solutions in Water,” identified 225 activities supported by the partnership in its first phase (2008-2012). During that period it worked in 64 countries and disbursed $19.1 million USD. About 46 percent of the money disbursed under the partnership’s first phase went to support water resources management, while nearly 30 percent was used for water supply and sanitation. The remainder went toward irrigation and drainage, environmental services, energy, and cross-sectoral projects.
The funds have helped secure water and sanitation services for 50 million people, most of them in Africa and South Asia, according to the report.
African countries received the largest share of the funding – 39 percent – and they also carried out the most projects under the partnership. The report highlighted a WPP-funded study that helped the government of Cameroon develop a national sanitation policy, an initiative to help Zimbabwe develop medium- and long-term priority water and sanitation interventions in small towns and rural growth areas, a water-sector investment plan for Malawi, and a WPP-funded water sector assessment for Kenya.
The partnership also invested in developing better knowledge about dams, and improved sustainability of individual dam projects across the continent. In North Africa, the WPP supported low-carbon desalination and water reuse projects.
In other parts of the Middle East, it evaluated the performance of utilities that provide services to 122 million people.
In East Asia and the Pacific the WPP focused on climate change adaptation, supporting development of the Green Water Defense, which it described as “a new adaptive management approach that integrates natural and built infrastructure to provide sustainable water services and manage climate-related risks,” and helping governments in the region develop national climate change adaptation and “green” water strategies.
In South Asia, it focused on improving hydro-meteorological data and data-sharing, particularly with regard to Himalayan snow melt and monsoon rains. It also supported efforts to increase the poor quality of water supply, sanitation, and irrigation servicesprovided to consumers in the region, and disaster risk management.
In Central Asia and Europe, the partnership supported rehabilitation and maintenance of aging and underfunded water and sanitation infrastructure, including dams on trans-boundary rivers. It also helped Kosovo develop climate change adaptation strategies, helped Macedonia amend its national Water Law, and promoted large-scale regional investment to reduce pollution in the Adriatic Sea.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the partnership helped with programs to find solutions to urban water challenges, since over 80 percent of the region’s population lives in cities. To that end, it supported the World Bank’s regional “Blue Water Green Cities (Phase I)” initiative and helped several cities develop integrated urban water management initiatives. It also supported adaptation efforts for countries at risk for water-related natural disasters.
The size and scope of the partnership is expected to expand in its second phase, which started in 2012.
In Phase 2, the WPP aims to help both water-abundant and water-scarce countries define long-term paths to climate-resilient green growth. It will also commit more resources to building partnerships to increase reliable, good quality water supply for health and production.