6 September 2010 – Increased support for hydropower, including high-risk, high-reward infrastructure projects has been requested through a report on the World Bank Group’s Water Strategy.  The report also urged for a more integrated approach to water management.

The Mid-Cycle Implementation Progress Report for the Water Resources Strategy – entitled 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 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, welcomed the Progress Report, singling out its reaffirmation of the institution’s commitment to help developing countries to upgrade or build adequate hydraulic infrastructure, or remove obstacles to it.

“Only 23 percent of hydropower potential located in developing countries has been exploited. The gains for the poor can be enormous,” she said. “To achieve those gains successfully we must engage with communities pro-actively to identify local benefits and manage and mitigate any risks associated with hydropower projects. In that manner, all people benefit, today and tomorrow.”