Blog by Caroline van den Berg, World Bank Group
If time travel were possible, and an engineer from the 1860s could travel in time to 2019, he (the first female engineer had not graduated yet) would not recognize much of the technology we have today. Personal computers, cell phones, cars, planes, and antibiotics would probably be unfathomable to him. But he would definitely recognize our current piped water and sanitation (WSS) infrastructure, as it looks and operates almost exactly the same as it did 150 years ago. Certainly, there have been significant improvements in the sector, especially in water and wastewater treatment, but the principles on which the piped WSS technology is based have not seen any fundamental changes since the 1860s, when it was (re)introduced on a large scale.
It’s now 2017 and I’m in Washington DC at the latest leg of my journey. Just a few days ago the World Bank’s Water Global Practice launched a toolkit and background report that explores why, when and how water utilities can work together to provide better services. This is the culmination of a years-long team effort and, for me, a particular satisfaction to have even more evidence to inform our policy advice on the matter. As often, the conclusions are more nuanced than my (and many of my colleagues’) Cartesian mind would like. The success of an aggregation depends very much on your starting point and what you are trying to achieve, and so you really need to think about those two points as you design your reform process…. But I don’t want to give all the insights away – check out the toolkit, discover the case studies, listen to the interviews and read the report if you want to know more!
Private sector investment principles could make the fecal sludge management chain sustainable, says a new report released in time for FSM4
To understand why innovation in fecal sludge management matters, ask yourself this: In 15 years, when almost 5 billion people are using on-site sanitation, solutions like pit latrines and septic tanks, what will the world do with all the fecal waste? About half that many people use onsite sanitation today, and we already have a hard time keeping up.
Article published on http://www.worldbank.org.
Most people agree that water is an extremely valuable resource—for farmers who depend on it to grow crops, for factories that need it to cool machines and spin turbines and, of course for life itself. But. The very fact that water is so important to people, economies, and the environment means that it is tough to even agree on a common way of valuing it.
No less an economic mind than Adam Smith was stumped by this challenge. As he famously observed, “Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarcely anything. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarcely any use-value; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it.”
In the World Bank Water Practice, we often talk about how issues like flooding and droughts threaten our mission to end poverty and boost shared prosperity. But how much do we actually know about how these floods and droughts – “water shocks” – impact farmers, firms, and communities? Perhaps adaptation in the economy has limited such impacts. Or maybe policies have led to economies being more vulnerable to such shocks.
The journey of our water from source to tap is long, and not one we think much about. For most of us, our water starts high in the mountains, hundreds of miles away. From there, water flows across natural and working lands until a portion is channeled to water pipes that move water to our faucets, to farms, and to various types of businesses. Most often we think of those pipes as being our main water infrastructure, but upstream lands play a key role in capturing, storing and moving our water. By conserving these lands, we can better protect our water and generate additional benefits for people and nature.
The report below was posted on the World Bank Water Blog by SUSANNE M. SCHEIERLING ON WED, 03/30/2016.
In many parts of the world, changing demand and supply patterns are contributing to an increasing physical scarcity and competition for water resources. Historically, new demands have been met by developing additional supplies—with the incremental cost of water remaining relatively constant over time due to the ready availability of water development project sites to meet growing demands. As the water economy moves from an expansionary to a mature phase, incremental costs are sharply rising, and interdependencies among users and uses are greatly increasing. With this move, the issues to be addressed by water economists tend to become more pressing, broader and more complex. While in the expansionary phase structural or engineering approaches to water management tend to be the main focus, in a maturing water economy nonstructural or institutional options for solving water problems receive increasing attention. In particular, resource allocation and valuation issues move to the forefront of economic inquiry.
To read the full blog post click here.
To access the report click here.