World Bank Report Supports Hydro Development

A newly-released report on the World Bank Group’s water strategy calls for support for hydropower in developing countries, while urging a more integrated approach to water resources management.

The Mid-Cycle Implementation Progress Report for the Water Resources Strategy – titled Sustaining Water for All in a Changing Climate – reaffirms the soundness of the Bank Group’s 2003 water strategy and project implementation track record. It notes highly satisfactory outcome ratings for World Bank water projects and an appropriate emphasis on high-priority countries, that is, countries whose people face obstacles to their access to water.

But the report, drafted by Nancy Vandycke, also laments slow progress on the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people without access to improved sanitation, as well as the continuing shortage of reliable data on water availability and use.

Specifically, the report, endorsed by the World Bank Board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE), directs the Bank Group to:

Enhance an integrated approach to water resource management to meet growing demand for water in a climate-resilient way;

Scale-up support for hydropower, as the largest source of renewable and low-carbon energy, including high-risk, high-reward infrastructure projects;

Focus more on 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.

Inger Andersen, vice president for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, said: “Only 23 percent of hydropower potential located in developing countries has been exploited. The gains for the poor can be enormous. To achieve those gains successfully, we must engage with communities proactively to identify local benefits and manage and mitigate any risks associated with hydropower projects. In that manner, all people benefit, today and tomorrow.”

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