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U.S. Government and World Bank Implement Cooperation in Water Sector

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 07:31 AM
Contributors: USAID
In March, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and World Bank President Robert Zoellick signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) related to cooperation in the water sector between the United States Government (USG) and the World Bank. Since then, the US Government and the World Bank have formed six working groups (WG) consisting of USG and World Bank representatives, concentrating on communications and knowledge management (CKM), water resources management (WRM), water and sanitation (WASH), water productivity, remote sensing, and science and technology (S&T).

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The working groups have inventoried existing activities that will serve as a platform for future collaboration, such as:

  • A $400,000 USAID/Peru contribution to the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) for two years of support to its 'Sanitation as Business' activities in Peru and the Peru Hand Washing initiative. This has led to expansion of sanitation marketing programming in Nicaragua that the Bank and WSP are financing for $1,000,000;
  • USAID's Hygiene Improvement Project, which provided technical assistance to the Government of Ethiopia's comprehensive WASH initiative, supported by the World Bank's WSP. The project has led to a multi-million dollar work program to help Ethiopia scale up rural sanitation;
  • The World Bank-affiliated WSP's collaboration with USAID Eco Asia and the Philippine Water Revolving Fund (PWRF), a joint effort between the U.S. and Japan to attract private investment in water and sanitation infrastructure. In 2010, PWRF issued a $1.3 million loan to a local water district to rehabilitate its water system and improve delivery of water to 23,000 households, businesses, and municipal infrastructure in 36 villages.

The Working Groups also implemented several learning events:

  • The WG on Remote Sensing hosted a one-day event in February 2012 as part of the Bank's annual "Sustainable Development Week." The event reviewed advances in geospatial technology that offer potential for the developing world in improving productivity, reducing vulnerability and conflicts, and improving resilience to climate change. Presentations described remote sensing projects by The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The United States Geological Survey, USAID, United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and several universities, as well a discussion on World Bank priorities with USG scientists and personnel.
  • Also at the February event, the Communications and Knowledge Management WG hosted a one-day learning session entitled "ICT 4 Water", showcasing the emerging explosion of mobile and mapping solutions for the water sector. More than 150 USG and World Bank staff learned about these information and communications technologies (ICT) from experts at USAID, the Department of State, the World Bank, Nokia, Pacific Institute, Ushahidi, and Akvo. Their examples from Haiti, Central America, Kenya, Indonesia, and Afghanistan showed how ICTs can support development goals and increase citizen engagement in water programs. ICTs offer the potential for significantly improved service delivery and response time to a growing number of water users worldwide.
  • The WASH WG hosted a joint WB-USAID learning event in September 2011 titled "Lessons for Rural Water Supply: Sustainable Services at Scale." The event featured presentations by representatives of the IRC Triple S (Sustainable Services at Scale) Initiative followed by discussion moderated by technical staff from the WB and USAID. Triple S is a Gates-funded initiative to explore the factors explaining the widespread failure of rural water systems following construction and what can be done to improve performance by changing the focus from building systems to building services.

The working groups are now reviewing new potential projects concerned with:

  • Improving transboundary river basin management;
  • Communications and knowledge management to address the issue of poor performance in water and sanitation utilities through capacity development and reform. The project would support stakeholders through courses, knowledge exchange, and coalition-building and leadership development;
  • Building capacity among WB and USG staff to design and implement programs that incorporate multiple-use water systems;
  • Working with African and Asian partner institutions to support countries in integrating agricultural water management into national food security planning and implementation;
  • Pilot projects and knowledge management efforts to strengthen the capacity of WB and USG staff to apply remote sensing in water management projects; and

Bringing together USG and World Bank expertise on hydro-meteorological services to develop and implement a global, open-source portal for networking, contact sharing and best practices The project would also identify specific countries and regions with particular needs for customized support and products.

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