How effective was the World Bank Group in in supporting client countries to improve Water supply & Sanitation Services?
How well is it equipped to support client countries for Sustainable Development Goal or SDG 6
It is well known that worldwide, there are at least 600 million people without safe water supply, and 2.4 billion without adequate sanitation.
Lack of access is especially concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and East Asia; in low and lower-income countries; and among the urban and rural poor.
SDG 6 has raised the bar greatly from simple access to water supply and sanitation to sustainable and universal access to adequate, reliable, safe, and affordable service delivery by 2030.
SDG 6 calls for investment of 1.7 trillion dollars over the next 15 years, three times historic levels (!)
This is an ambitious target, given the sector’s poor cost recovery record, traditional dependence on public funds, and low and uncertain fiscal transfers
Cross sectoral impacts are increasingly effecting Water Supply and Sanitation: First, unregulated self-provisioning of water in urban areas is placing undue stress on groundwater quantity and quality Second, unregulated wastewater and sludge disposal is causing serious groundwater and surface water pollution Third, Climate variations are giving rise to greater uncertainties in water availability On the positive side, new and decentralized technologies, and the expansion of the digital economy and the internet of things (IOT) hold great promise to address these issues
This figure and table show how low tariffs and poor cost recovery are pervasive in the sector among many client countries.
In particular, East Asia and South Asia are far behind other regions in these respects.
The World Bank group provided 30.3 billion dollars to the sector during 2007 to 2016.
Of this the World Bank accounted for 93% percent, IFC 5% and MIGA 2%
As you can see from this table, Low Income Countries, received the lowest share by far of World Bank assistance, and none at all from IFC and MIGA.
Rural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa and urban areas in South Asia received relatively less attention.
Small town areas, where the problems of the future are brewing, received vey low emphasis.
In sharp contrast to the expectations of SDG 6, there are glaring gaps in the World Bank’s tracking of service delivery parameters.
This is especially so for adequacy, quality and reliability of sanitation in rural areas, and affordability across the board.
This goes to the heart of accountability of service providers to consumers.
Only 15 out of 152 World Bank projects rated by this evaluation had Key Performance Indicators for people classified as poor.
However, the World Bank’s recent WASH Poverty Diagnostic covering 18 countries across six regions, can help re-focus on the poor.
Of 152 projects, only 33 projects or 22 percent had favorable ratings for Monitoring & Evaluation.
Lack of baseline data, inadequately defined parameters, and poor feedback to operations are common.
Of 152 projects, 107 projects or 71% had moderately satisfactory or better development outcomes. However, of these 107 projects, 45 projects or 42 percent, had substantial or high risk to development outcomes, greatly reducing the impact of the Bank’s 28.4 billion dollar assistance in the last ten years. The risk arose by far from a lack of financial sustainability. This links to the finding that only 4% of the 152 projects had financial viability reflected in their project objectives.
Several World Bank projects tried to address financial viability of service providers through covenants.
However, as this table shows, the effect was marginal at the best.
The World Bank has supported client countries to address cross-sectoral impacts on water supply and sanitation in some prominent cases.
However, there is little evidence of a systematic approach to these issues across the World Bank Global Practices, or to support client countries to achieve inter-ministerial coordination to tackle these issues.
In particular, no new models have been developed for lower middle income countries, which need them the most.
The World Bank has successfully supported a community-based model for rural water supply in countries including Indonesia, India, Nepal, Peru, and Sri Lanka. Continuous attention to capacity building especially by the Water and Sanitation Program or WSP, was an important feature of this effort. However the long term sustainability of rural water supply depends on ongoing financial and technical support from local governments; and a transition strategy as rural areas grow into small towns and peri-urban communities.
World Bank has supported behavior change among service providers in a few prominent cases.
For example, it supported radical change in the corporate management approach and work culture in Lima, Peru’s SEDAPAL utility.
It supported incentive mechanisms to reduce non-revenue water losses in Phnom Penh and Ho chi Minh City
Only 14 projects approved during 2007-16 included components for behavior change in hygiene and sanitation.
Even in these efforts, formative research and monitoring & evaluation were inadequate.
The global programs WSP as well as WPP, PPIAF, and GPOBA have helped maintain an edge in knowledge generation and sharing
IBNET has played a pioneering role in benchmarking utility performance, and can potentially leverage new digital and internet of things possibilities.
The World Bank’s convening power is low and uneven compared to the scale of its lending and knowledge presence in many countries
SOME OVER-ARCHING MESSAGES Without tackling financial viability and service provider accountability head-on, the World Bank Group cannot provide credible support to countries to move towards SDG 6.
Cross-sectoral impacts are reaching crisis proportions in many countries, and new technology and business models, and collaborative arrangements must be pursued with client countries.
To these ends, the sector must leverage digital technology and the internet of things.
A Thirst for Change: The World Bank Group’s Support for Water Supply and Sanitation
evaluations that matter
A Thirst for Change:
The World Bank Group’s Support for
Water Supply and Sanitation
A Thirst for Change:
An Evaluation of The World Bank Group’s Support for
Water Supply and Sanitation 2007-16
Senior Evaluation Officer, Sustainable Development Unit, IEG
Independent Evaluation Group 3
How effective has the WBG been in supporting Clients to improve
How well is it equipped to support Client countries in keeping with
Context –Access Gap and Disparities
Lack of access to adequate WSS
services is especially concentrated
• in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and East Asia;
• in low and lower-middle-income countries; and
• among the urban and rural poor.
Lack of access to sanitation is of
great concern because of impacts in
human health and the environment
Independent Evaluation Group 4
Lack safe water supply
Lack adequate sanitation
Most live in low-income and
Context – SDG 6 SDGs are the core business of the World
Bank Group, and thus SDG 6 now frames
the World Bank Group’s strategy for Water
Supply & Sanitation
SDG 6 has raised the bar from simple
access to water supply and sanitation to
sustainable and universal access to
adequate, reliable, safe and affordable
service delivery by 2030
Independent Evaluation Group 5
Context –Access Gap and Disparities
SDG 6 calls for an investment of
US$1.7 trillion over the next 15
years, which is three times historic
This is a difficult target for World
Bank client countries, given the
sector’s poor cost recovery record,
traditional dependence on public
funds, and low and uncertain fiscal
Independent Evaluation Group 6
Investment needed to reach
SFC 6 by 2030
Sector resource flow 2007-
2015 (US Billion)
$31.4 Private Sector
*MDBs: WBG, ADB, AfDB, IDB
Context – Growing
Cross-sectoral impacts caused by poor Water
Supply & Sanitation Services and competing
pressures from agriculture and industry are
• First, self-provisioning of water in urban areas has
placed undue stress on groundwater quantity and
• Second, Unregulated wastewater and sludge
disposal has resulted in serious groundwater and
surface water pollution.
• Third, Climate variations are giving rise to greater
uncertainties in water availability.
On the positive side, the expansion of the digital
economy, and new decentralized service
models, present a wide range of opportunities.
Independent Evaluation Group 7
Context - Poor Cost Recovery
Independent Evaluation Group 8
Indicative Water Tariffs Utilities - Cost Recovery Ratios (2014)
Source : Global Water Intelligence 2015 Source: http://www.ib-net.org
Sub-Saharan Africa 212 60
East Asia (except China) 262 6
E. Europe and C. Asia 461 38
Brazil 1145 40
M. East and N. Africa 3 67
South Asia 55 22
WBG support for W&S, FY2007-16
Independent Evaluation Group 9
World Bank / IFC / MIGA Shares
World Bank Group:
WBG support - by Country Income Group
Independent Evaluation Group 10
Commitments (US$, billions)
Country Income Category
High and Upper Middle 37% 50% 100%
Lower Middle 50% 50% -
Low Income 13% - -
ALL 100% 100% 100%
Low income countries received negligible assistance from IFC and MIGA
WBG Support – Urban vs. Rural focus
• Rural areas receive less attention in Sub-Saharan Africa
• Urban areas receive less attention in South Asia
• Small Towns receive low emphasis in all regions
Independent Evaluation Group 11
% projects with a subsector objective; total projects = 163
Category SSA EAP ECA LAC MNA SAR
SSA: Sub Saharan Africa; EAP: E. Asia and Pacific; ECA: E. Europe and C. Asia; LAC: Latin
America and Caribbean; MNA: Middle East and North Africa; SAR: South Asia
Tracking Outcomes – Large Gaps in measuring Service Delivery
• There are large gaps in measuring service delivery attributes for both water supply
• This is especially so for sanitation and for rural areas, and for affordability
Independent Evaluation Group 12
No. of rated
No. of projects measuring
ADEQUACY QUALITY RELIABILITY
Water supply 82 45 35 23 -
Sanitation 55 15 - - -
No. of rated
No. of projects measuring
ADEQUACY QUALITY RELIABILITY
Water supply 45 22 12 7 -
Sanitation 36 - - - -
Tracking Outcomes –
Focus on the Poor
Only 15 projects covering 13 countries had
KPIs explicitly directed to outputs or
outcomes for people classified as poor
However, the recent WASH Poverty
Diagnostic covering 18 countries across six
regions, is a strong basis to renewed focus
Of the 152 projects only 33 projects (22%)
had substantial and high ratings for M&E
Lack of baseline data, inadequately defined
parameters, and poor implementation and
feedback to operations
Independent Evaluation Group 13
Of 152 rated projects, 107 projects (71%)
had Moderately Satisfactory or better
Development Outcomes at project
However, of the 107 well-performing
projects, 45 projects (42 %) had Substantial
or High Risk to Development Outcome
The Risk arose mainly from
– lack of financial sustainability
– low institutional capacity (especially in rural
– and insufficient borrower leadership and
The ratings do not reflect environmental
sustainability because they take longer to
become visible (e.g. farmland pollution in
China; water scarcity in Sao Paulo)
Independent Evaluation Group 14
WBG Portfolio Performance - Financial Viability
Independent Evaluation Group 15
37 33 32 13 13 9 7
51 33 38 54 23 56 43
Financial Covenants had at best a marginal impact on improving financial viability of
World Bank has supported client countries
to address cross-sectoral impacts…
Pollution of water resources caused by
municipal, industrial, and nonpoint pollution
from agricultural runoff (e.g. Argentina,
China, Egypt, India, Mexico)
Extreme water stress leading to
unsustainable aquifer management (Brazil,
Mexico, Yemen, and Tunisia)
…however, there is no evidence of a
systematic approach to these issues…in
particular no models have been developed
for lower middle income countries, which
need them most
WBG Portfolio Performance – Cross-
Independent Evaluation Group 16
World Bank has supported a community-based
model for improving rural WSS access and
achieved moderately satisfactory or better results in
78 percent of 45 completed and rated projects
(Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal)
Community-based approaches have succeeded
with continued capacity-building support, where the
Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) has played a
Decentralized M&E through innovative use of cell
phones and the internet has been piloted
However, long-term sustainability depends on
– ongoing financial and technical support from
– a transition strategy as villages grow into small
towns and peri-urban communities
WBG Portfolio Performance – Rural water
supply and sanitation
World Bank supported behavior change in WSS
service providers orienting them towards
industrywide benchmarks linked to incentive
Radical change in corporate management
approach and work culture in Lima, Peru’s
Reducing non-revenue water losses in Phnom
Penh’s Water Supply Authority and in Ho Chi
Minh city in Vietnam.
WBG Portfolio Performance -
Promoting Service Provider Behavior
Independent Evaluation Group 18
Only 14 projects approved during FY2007–
16 included behavior changes
Formative research and monitoring and
evaluation were generally lacking
WBG Portfolio Performance - Promoting
Behavior Change for hygiene and
Independent Evaluation Group 19
and Convening Role
Value addition of global programs WSP, WPP
PPIAF and GPOBA in maintaining an edge on
knowledge generation and sharing is widely
IBNET has played in important role in
benchmarking of utility performance
WB convening power low/uneven at country
level compared to scale of lending and
Independent Evaluation Group 20
Overarching messages Without tackling financial viability and service
provider accountability head-on, the World
Bank Group cannot provide credible support
to countries to move towards SDG 6.
Cross-sectoral impacts are reaching crisis
proportions in many countries, and new
technology and business models, and
collaborative arrangements must be pursued
with client countries.
To these ends, the sector must leverage
digital technology and the internet of things.
Recommendations Engage intensely with client governments
on WSS sector reforms to strengthen the
financial viability of service providers and to
create conditions for increased access to
commercial finance, in keeping with the new
Enhance engagement for reducing
disparities in WSS access between and
within countries, and urban and rural areas.
Increase cross-sectoral collaboration to
address complex WSS-related challenges
(such as municipal pollution, groundwater
over-abstraction, and resilience to climate-
Recommendations Align the results frameworks and key
performance indicators of World Bank
projects with SDG 6 needs; and support
client countries to build their evidence base
for WSS service delivery
Enhance knowledge and learning in the
WSS sector in client countries through
effective partnerships and capacity-building.