(See also Global Practices.) One of 14 new World Bank Group Global Practices, Water aims to help governments ensure basic access to water and sanitation services for even the poorest people.

World Bank Group and Water

The world will not be able to meet the great development challenges of the 21st century—human development, livable cities, climate change, food security, or energy security—without improving how countries manage their water resources and ensuring that people have access to reliable water and sanitation services. But mismanagement of this basic element of life has led to millions of deaths and billions of dollars in lost opportunities for economic growth every year, severely constraining countries' development potential.

Through its Global Practice on Water, the World Bank Group seeks to ensure that its water projects explicitly factor poverty reduction into project development:

• Early on, the world met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe water. Between 1990 and 2010, more than 2 billion people gained access to safe water. However, Africa will likely not attain its water MDG.

• Although the world will likely not meet the sanitation MDG by the 2015 deadline, progress is being made: 1.9 billion people gained access to sanitation between 1990 and 2010, and 500 million gained access just in the past several years.

• However, there is still a long way to go, with 2.5 billion people still lacking access to sanitation.

In response to these challenges, the Bank Group is placing particular emphasis on key themes: water resources management, water supply, sanitation, irrigation and drainage, and hydropower.

In fiscal 2013, the World Bank Group committed $3 billion for the water sector. In the past three years (fiscal 2011-13), the World Bank's commitment for water projects totaled $17 billion, comprising 56 percent for water supply and sanitation, 16 percent for hydropower, 15 percent for irrigation and drainage, and 13 percent for flood protection. In fiscal 2013, IFC lent $214 million for water infrastructure projects. MIGA provided guarantees totaling $704 million for water supply, water treatment, and hydropower investments in Ghana, Jordan, and Angola, respectively.

The Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project wishes to increase the river

The Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project wishes to increase the river's productivity with investments in a hydro-meteorological observation system and services to support agricultural productivity, water-related disaster risk management, and navigation enhancements to promote transport. © World Bank. Permission required for reuse.

However, with massive water challenges, financing from the public sector and development aid are not enough. The Bank seeks to leverage financing from other sources, including the domestic private sector and public-private partnerships.

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