World Bank Calls For More Integrated Approach To Global Water Management

The World Bank on Tuesday issued a report (.pdf) calling for a more integrated approach to worldwide water management, PANA/Afrique en ligne reports (9/1). “We can’t properly tackle global priorities of food security, renewable energy, adaptation to climate change, public health and urbanization unless we manage water better,” Julia Bucknall, water sector manager for the World Bank, said, according to a World Bank press release (8/31).

The report also reviewed the effectiveness of the World Bank’s 2003 water strategy, VOA News reports (DeCapua, 8/31). It found that “as lending in the water sector has increased, project performance has improved, with satisfactory ratings consistently higher than the Bank-wide average of 75 percent,” according to the World Bank release. Similar conclusions were drawn by an evaluation conducted by the Independent Evaluation Group published in March 2010, the release notes. The current report asserts that the World Bank placed “an appropriate emphasis” on countries where populations face the greatest barriers to accessing water (8/31).

However, “[w]ith already 900 million people having no access to improved drinking water sources and expected addition of three billion to total population by 2030, the sector faces immense challenges, the report said,” the International Business Times reports.

“The report finds that more than one-sixth of the world’s population [is] without access to safe drinking water (with 80 percent from rural areas) and 39 percent of the world’s population [has] no access to improved basic sanitation,” the news service adds. “If the current rate persists, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing half of the people who do not have access to improved sanitation, will miss the target by one billion people, the report said,” the International Business Times reports.

The article examines the potential impact of water shortages on agriculture in developing countries and populations living in urban areas, and how such effects will lead to competition between agriculture and urban water use. The article also notes that the report “underscores better water management as a means of improving gross domestic products (GDP) of countries” and includes quotes by Inger Andersen, vice-president for sustainable development at the World Bank (8/31).

According to the World Bank press release, the report directs the bank to create an integrated approach to water resource management, provide greater support for hydropower, focus “water for climate change adaptation and mitigation,” increase “assistance to agricultural water management; and 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” (8/31).

VOA News also includes comments by Bucknall and Andersen, who, among other things, address the potential for hydropower in developing countries (8/31).

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