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Name The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Logo Image:Undp_logo.gif
Geographic Scope Global
Subject Focus/Expertise Sustainable Development
Contact E-mail: Submit General Enquiries Online
URL http://www.undp.org
edit  ·  AboutUN-Water
UN-Water Partners: AquaFed | The Global Compact | GWP | IAH | IAHS | ICID | IWA | IWMI | PSI | RAMSAR | SIWI | UNSGAB | WSSCC | WBCSD | IUCN | World Water Council | WWF
UN-Water Task Forces on WaterWiki: UN-Water Country-level Coordination TF
Key UN-Water Reports: Water Monitoring (Monitoring Task Force report - Aug 08) | UN-Water/reports
Related WaterWiki-resources: UN World Water Development Report | Water Monitoring
Key External Links: About UN-Water | About WWAP | World Water Development Report (WWDR)

> Projects | Publications | Who is who



UNDP is the UN's global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. It is on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and its wide range of partners.

World leaders have pledged to achieve the Millennium Development Goals including the overarching goal of cutting poverty in half by 2015. UNDP's network links and coordinates global and national efforts to reach these Goals. It helps developing countries attract and use aid effectively. In all its activities, UNDP encourages the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women.

The annual Human Development Report, commissioned by UNDP, focuses the global debate on key development issues, providing new measurement tools, innovative analysis and often controversial policy proposals. The global Report's analytical framework and inclusive approach carry over into regional, national and local Human Development Reports, also supported by UNDP.

Water-related programmes

1. Water Governance

Water Governance constitutes one of UNDP's main focus areas. Currently, over 1 billion people lack access to water and over 2.4 billion lack access to basic sanitation. This water crisis is largely our own making. It has resulted not from the natural limitations of the water supply or lack of financing and appropriate technologies, even though these are important factors, but rather from profound failures in water governance. Consequently, UNDP's response to this water crisis has been to emphasize an integrated approach to water resource management (IWRM) through effective water governance.

UNDP's Water Governance Programme is currently providing assistance to member countries on different levels through the following areas:

UNDP is also a founding member and active supporter of The Global Water Partnership (GWP). The GWP seeks to support integrated approaches to sustainable water management by encouraging stakeholders at all levels to work together in more effective, efficient and collaborative ways. The Partnership is an international network open to all organizations involved in water resources management, including governments of developing as well as developed countries, UN agencies, multilateral banks, professional associations, research organizations, the private sector and non-governmental organizations. Through the GWP, UNDP is also involved in a Dialogue for Effective Water Governance, which aims to bring stakeholders together to examine the political processes that drive water governance systems. It creates a platform for conflict resolution, negotiation, social learning and collective decision making.

2. UNDP-GEF International Waters Programme

In addition to the above, UNDP is also one of the implementing agencies of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). UNDP-GEF administers and implements an important programme on International Waters. The International Waters portfolio of projects which UNDP implements on behalf of the GEF is worth over US$1.05 billion ($321 million in GEF grants). It covers over 20 international water bodies including large marine ecosystems, lakes and river basins, and shared aquifers in over 100 countries. Projects implementing stress reduction measures in major transboundary waterbodies are underway in the Danube, Black Sea, Benguela Current LME, Caspian Sea and Pacific SIDS. There are also 20 integrated coastal management sites operational in 12 countries in East Asia, which are being extensively replicated. Many projects target strengthening joint integrated management of freshwater resources in shared lakes and rivers and groundwater systems. Stress reduction results include measurable reductions in pollution loads and evidence of ecosystem recovery, such as in the Danube/Black Sea basin.


UNDP, in cooperation with UNEP, World Bank and the GEF Secretariat, has also initiated a special learning project - IW:LEARNdesigned to stimulate and facilitate exchange of experiences and lessons learned among different international waters projects. IW:LEARN also organizes an International Waters conference every two years to bring together country representatives from all GEF International Waters projects to share lessons, experience and good practices.

Fast Facts

UNDP’s Water Governance Programme is active in over 150 countries, in four thematic areas of support: Water Supply, Sanitation, Transboundary Waters Manage-ment, and Water Resources Management. In the graph on page 2 water supply and sanitation are represented as one section.

  • The Water Governance portfolio totals $1.5 billion including cash and in-kind co-financing.
  • The International Waters focal area of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) represents the principal source of funding for the Transboundary Waters Management area.
  • UNDP participates in UN-Water, Global Water Partnership, Water and Sanitation Programme, World Water Assessment Programme, World Water Forum.
  • Partners include governments, bilateral and multilateral donors, UN agencies, NGOs and private foundations
  • UNDP has set up 11 national and 9 regional water management capacity-building networks, including 300 member institutions
  • UNDP draws on expertise from its Environment & Energy network of 1,413 members.

For more national-scale projects and programmes see below or UNDP Country Office websites

UNDP has a challenging mission as an international organization of the United Nations system supporting development interventions. The UNDP mission is to support countries to accelerate progress on sustainable human development. This means that all UNDP policy advice, technical support, advocacy, and contributions to strengthening coherence in global development finance must be aimed at one end result: real improvements in people’s lives and in the choices and opportunities open to them. UNDP has championed this integrative approach to human development since the 1990s, using the Human Development Reports, launched under the leadership of the late Mahbub ul-Haq with Amartya Sen, as important tools in this advocacy. Central to the human development approach is the concept of human empowerment.

Key Resources



Source:UNDP website
  • UNDP-GEF International Waters Programme: Delivering Results (2006) - For over 15 years, through its International Waters portfolio, UNDP-GEF has been providing support to assist over 100 countries in working jointly to identify, prioritize, understand, and address the key transboundary environmental and water resources issues of some of the world’s largest and most significant shared waterbodies. This publication highlights the many important results delivered to date by UNDP-GEF’s International Waters programme.
  • Water for Life: Community Water Security (2006) - this is one of the key knowledge products of UNDP’s Community Water Initiative, launched with support from the Swedish Government (through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA), enabling communities to live healthier lives through improvements in their access to water supply and sanitation. The publication points the way toward achievement of the MDGs. It complements a previous publication, Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment by directly addressing the actions needed at the community level to ensure access to safe drinking water. Practical guidance on the most important “how to” questions dealing with access to water is provided. It highlights, among other issues, what can be done to make water safe for drinking and cooking, and how to protect groundwater resources, collect rainwater, and store water safely.
Source:UNDP website
  • Community Water Initiative: Project Portfolio Review (2006) - The Community Water Initiative (CWI) supports decentralized, demand-driven, innovative, low-cost, and community-based water resource management and water supply and sanitation projects (WSS) in rural areas. CWI projects began in 2004; to date, CWI has allocated grants amounting to more than USD $620,000 for implementation of 39 projects, benefiting over 10,000 rural households (US $10 investment per capita) in six countries: Guatemala, Kenya, Mauritania, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Uganda. A seventh country, Ghana came on board in July 2006....
  • UNDP Fast Facts:Action on Water (2006) -
  • Sanitation and Clenliness for a healthy environment (2006) - This booklet addresses the different sanitation and hygiene needs of women and men. It gives communities information about how significant sanitation improvements can be made by better use of indigenous skills and local resources. Communities are offered a choice of affordable, safe, and environmentally sound sanitation alternatives. This booklet is designed to be an important part of the Community Water Initiative, stimulating communities to take charge of their sanitation development for a better life.
  • Water Governance for Poverty Reduction:Key Issues and the UNDP Response to the Millenium Development Goals (2004) - This booklet aims to highlight the key water-related challenges developing countries face, give examples of approaches that have worked based on the experience of UNDP and its partners, and make recommendations concerning policy. It is organized in chapters that correspond to the areas targeted by the Millennium Development Goals.

Click here for all water and sanitation related UNDP publications.

Work on the Ground

See also complete list of WaterWiki-documented UNDP-Projects

UNDP’s Water portfolio is made up of projects in over 150 countries, in three thematic areas of support: Water Supply and Sanitation, Transboundary Waters Management, and Integrated Water Resources Management.

UNDP has on-going or International Waters projects (GEF co-financed) in the following Water Basins:

Europe and CIS - 9 waterbodies
Danube, Dnipro, Kura-Aras, Tisza River basins
Lakes Baikal, Peipsi, Prespa
Caspian Sea
Dinaric Karst Aquifer
Asia-Pacific - 1 waterbody
Seistan River basin
Africa - 8 waterbodies
Nile, Niger, Senegal, Orange, Okavango river basins
Lake Tanganyika, Lake Chad, Lake Manzala
Latin America and Caribbean – 3 waterbodies
Rio de la Plata, Artibonito River
Lake Titicaca-Poopo
Arab States – 2 waterbodies
Nile River, Nubian Aquifer
Small Island Developing States – 33 SIDS water basins
Pacific SIDS
Caribbean SIDS
SE Atlantic and Indian Ocean SIDS

In policy development and implementation, UNDP works closely with partners including the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP), the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), and the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC).

Recent projects

See also UNDP/projects

For all water and sanitation-related projects see countries and individual country office websites


1. Community Water Initiative

UNDP's Community Water Initiative was developed in response to the World Summit on Sustainable Development call for concrete actions to meet global challenges in the field of water and sanitation. Inspired by the success of other successful UNDP programmes, the Community Water Initiative has functioned as a decentralized, demand driven funding mechanism for sustainable community-based water and sanitation development and management. The Initiative operates closely with the existing UNDP small grant mechanisms and includes their proven effective features. As a result of the Community Water Initiative, communities have set their own priorities and developed their own projects, thereby demonstrating the potential for scaling-up. In subsequent years additional countries will be added to the Community Water Initiative. See the Community Water Initiative Factsheet

2. Ecosan

Source:UNDP website

Ecological sanitation is an approach to human excreta disposal that aims at recycling nutrients back into the environment and into productive systems. UNDP has launched a project to further develop this concept and increase its application financed by the Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation (SIDA). About three billion people today lack safe sanitation. Within 20 years it is expected that an additional two billion will live in towns and cities, mainly in developing countries, demanding sanitation. The need for action is urgent. UNDP works closely with four resource centres on ecological sanitation:

1) Latin America
2) Africa: Aquamore,Zimbabwe
3) Asia: Eco-solutions, India
4) Global Research: EcoSanRes - Stockholm Environment Institute

See Closing the Loop: Ecological sanitation for food security for more information.

3. Water Governance Facility

Source:WGF website

The Water Governance Facility - was launched by UNDP and SIDA and hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute, to support developing country efforts to strengthen water governance. The facility provides policy support and advisory services in multiple thematic areas, ranging from IWRM, shared river basins, water supply, sanitation and climate change, to gender mainstreaming and capacity building.


See also

External Resources


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