Practically every development challenge of the 21st century—food and energy security, rapid urbanization, environmental protection, adaptation to climate change—requires urgent attention to the management of water resources. The World Bank Group places water resources management at the center of its efforts to help countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
The World Bank is one of the key external financiers in water resources management and one of the leading providers of knowledge and technical assistance on water. Overall, water lending accounts for 15 percent of the Bank's portfolio. World Bank funding has responded to the need to address both water development and management issues by promoting integrated water resources planning and by tackling institutional reforms along with infrastructure upgrades in various sectors. These sectors include contributions to flood management, hydro-power, agricultural water management, pollution control, transboundary water management, and climate change adaptation and mitigation activities. The World Bank will continue to play a key role by working across sectors and countries and with institutions and diverse stakeholders to help countries build resilience to climate change through water resources management.
Water Supply and Sanitation
Water is vital to maintaining health, to growing food, to managing the environment, and to creating jobs. Yet over 783 million people in the world are still without access to improved water sources, 2.5 billion people live without access to improved sanitation, and 1.1 billion people practice open defecation. Despite significant gains, sanitation remains one of the most off-track Millennium Development Goals globally.
The World Bank Group is committed to helping client countries build competent, efficient, businesslike, customer-oriented water and sanitation services. These services must ensure affordable and sustainable services to all, particularly the poor.
The Bank is also engaged in two ongoing partnerships on water:
• The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) is a 33-year-old partnership hosted by the Bank to help governments scale up improved water supply, sanitation services, and hygiene programs for poor people. It provides technical assistance and capacity building and leverages knowledge and partnerships through 125 technical staff members in 24 countries.
• The Water Partnership Program is a multidonor program aimed at strengthening the Bank's efforts to reduce poverty through improved water resources management and water service delivery.