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Name The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) / "The World Bank"
Logo Image:WorldBankLogo.gif
Geographic Scope Global
Subject Focus/ Expertise Loans / lending, financing, banking
Contact The World Bank
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433 USA
Telephone: +1 (202) 473-1000
Fax:+1 (202) 477-6391
E-mail: pic@worldbank.org
URL: http://web.worldbank.org/water (http://www.worldbank.org/ibrd | http://www.worldbank.org)
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See also World Bank Water Supply and Sanitation



The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) along with the International Development Association (IDA) are the two main organisations that make up the World Bank. Together these organizations provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit, and grants to developing countries

The World Bank provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. It is made up of two development institutions owned by 184 member countries—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). The IBRD focuses on middle income and creditworthy poor countries, while IDA focuses on the poorest countries in the world. Together they provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, communications and many other purposes.

The World Bank's overarching mission is to free the world of poverty. It's original mission was to finance the reconstruction of nations devastated by World War II, but now its mission has expanded to fight poverty by means of financing states.


In March 2000 the World Bank put in place a formal Water Resources Management Group (WRMG) within the Bank, modeled on 'good basin management principles'. The members of the WRMG are the managers or lead specialists from the 'stakeholder sectors' (water and sanitation, hydropower, irrigation and environment), the lead water resource specialist from each region, the water leaders from the World Bank Institute, IFC, and the GEF Secretariat, as well as a representative from the Legal Department. Given the cross-network nature of its work, the Group collaborates closely with other Sector Boards of the Bank, such as Environment, Rural, Water and Sanitation, and Energy.

The mandate of the WRMG encompasses:

  • quality of their lending and analytic work on water resources;
  • human resource actions with respect to water resources management, working collaboratively with various sector boards;
  • outreach and corporate positions on water resource issues; and
  • knowledge management on water resources.

The Water Resources Management, the Secretariat of the WRMG, reports to the INF and ESSD Vice Presidencies and is currently hosted by the Agriculture and Rural Development Department in ESSD. The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank approved the Water Resources Sector Strategy on February 25, 2003.

Policy advice

The World Bank group provide extensive policy advice, both on more generic issues (water resources management, transboundary water resources management) and country-specific. The Bank produced numerous comprehensive analyses of the specific water sector challenges of individual countries and basins as well as a range of reports and papers. Technical assistance, projects, activities The World Bank also presents specific topics related to water resources management and an accompanying small 'library' on each one. The sectors and themes featured in this section have been identified by the World Bank as either water management problems or aspects of water resources management that deserve and are receiving both constant attention and urgent effective action from stakeholders at all levels.

Coastal and Marine Management focuses on resources and human activity within the land-water interface along coastal regions of the world. A portfolio analysis indicates rapidly growing World Bank investments in areas within 60 km of the coastal zone, and many projects which currently benefit from an integrated coastal management (ICM) approach (US$330 million of dedicated coastal management activities).

Dams and Reservoirs can improve water supply for irrigation and households, provide power, mitigate floods, and help manage the complex web of water uses. They can also play an important role in climate change -- as a tool to help countries adapt to evolving hydrologic conditions and to reduce fossil fuel consumption. The World Bank supports investments in dams when they emerge as the priority alternative from strategic planning processes for decisions concerning water and energy. Increasingly, emphasis is placed on multi-purpose benefits, investments that build cooperation across regional and international boundaries, and adaptability. The Bank continues to impose high levels of environmental and social safeguards, while contributing to the growth of knowledge and management capacity for sustainable infrastructure. Groundwater is the primary source of water for drinking and irrigation. It is a unique resource, widely available, providing security against droughts and yet closely linked to surface water resources and the hydrological cycle. The World Bank is a partner in The Groundwater Management Advisory Team whose objectives include supporting and strengthening the groundwater components of World Bank projects.

Irrigation and Drainage: Water for Food has played an important role in global food security and rural development. In many countries, further expansion of irrigated agriculture to new lands is unlikely. The World Bank continues its support to client countries to promote sector sustainability and competitiveness through investments and policy reforms.

River Basin Management: The development of sustainable, efficient and equitable River Basin Management systems is fundamental to the well-being of people, economic growth, and the environment. The World Bank has promoted several initiatives, contributed to, and facilitated river basin management approaches.

International Waters: encompasses a range of mechanisms and instruments to support the use of water as a catalyst for regional cooperation rather than a source of potential conflict. The World Bank has worked successfully to foster riparian cooperation and agreements through, for example, the Indus Nile Basin Initiative and other interventions.

Water and Environment encompasses aquatic biodiversity, environmental flow requirements, water pollution control, water weeds and hyacinth control, and wetlands management. In each of these areas, the World Bank is actively identifying good practices with a view toward improving the project portfolio.

Water Economics and Institutions deals with the economic aspects of water including the economic analysis of water resources and water supply and sanitation projects and examines recent advances in water economics methodology, tools, and applications. The World Bank has been active in supporting water pricing reforms in multiple sectors, economic analysis of costs and benefits of water projects, and the associated knowledge-base, modeling tools and institutional strengthening.

Water Supply and Sanitation is directly related to the main themes on the development agenda -- poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, private sector-led growth, participatory development, and good governance. The World Bank Group strives to help its member countries to ensure that everyone has access to efficient, responsive, and sustainable water and sanitation services

Watershed Management is an accepted component of natural resources management and is incorporated in many different kinds of World Bank projects, ranging from sector-specific projects (forestry, irrigation, agriculture, etc.) to integrated area development. The bank recognises that much investment is needed to close the access gap in WSS, but that it is not simply a matter of more money. Sustainable access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation requires improving and sustaining the quality of existing services, tailoring new services to respond to demand from unserved households, and establishing sound environmental management practices. Common to each of these is the need for better utilization of existing resources. Doing so requires action along four fronts:

  • Creating and disseminating knowledge on what works in local circumstances.
  • Adopting policies that provide incentives to invest and operate efficiently and ensure that services reach the poor.
  • Building and strengthening local institutions to permit improvements in service quality and increased access.
  • Securing the necessary financing to rebuild infrastructure and expand service coverage and quality.

A wide range of technical assistance and projects, both hard and soft, is provided through the Bank. The World Bank offers an array of instruments including loans and grants to finance poverty-reduction and economic development efforts around the world. The Bank has two types of lending instruments:

  • Investment Loans: finance goods, works, and services in support of economic and social development projects in a broad range of sectors.
  • Development Policy Loans: provide quick-disbursing external financing to support policy and institutional reforms. They typically run for one to three years.

A limited number of grants are also available through the Bank, either funded directly or managed through partnerships. Most are designed to encourage innovation, collaboration with other organizations, and participation by stakeholders at national and local levels. Donors entrust the Bank to operate some 850 active trust funds, which are accounted separately from the Bank's own resources.

In the international WSS community, the World Bank's regional units are responsible for developing and supervising individual WSS projects through loans and credits to the governments of the client countries. They are supported by the Energy, Transport and Water Department. In addition, where country and project creditworthiness is sufficient, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) issues loans and equity, and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) provides guarantees to catalyze private investment in the sector.

Key Resources

Data & Statistics

  • Urban/rural WSS data - Maps and Excel spreadsheets on % access to improved water sources and % access to improved sanitation.
  • Water Resources Management Data - Maps and Excel spreadsheets on, inter alia, freshwater withdrawals, freshwater resources, water productiveity and water pollution.


  • Private Participation in Infrastructure Database - provides data on more than 4,100 projects in 141 low and middle-income countries. The database is the leading source of PPI trends in the developing world, covering projects in the energy, telecommunications, transport, and water and sewerage sectors.


Selected key publications include:

Water, Electricity and the Poor: Who Benefits from Utility Subsidies

Emerging Public-Private Partnerships In Irrigation Development and Management (2007)

Irrigation in Central Asia: Social, Economic and Environmental Considerations

Natural Resources and Violent Conflict: Options and Actions

Click here to view all 400+ water-related World Bank publications.

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Work on the Ground

The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP)

This is a multi-donor partnership of The World Bank. The goal is to help the poor gain sustained access to improved water supply and sanitation services (WSS). WSP work directly with client governments at the local and national level in 27 countries through 4 regional offices and in The World Bank headquarters, Washington D.C. The aim is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation by 2015. For almost thirty years, WSP has led or supported many of the advances made within the water and sanitation sector. WSP are able to share best practices across regions and place a strong focus on capacity building by forming partnerships with nongovernmental organizations, governments at all levels, community organizations, private industry, and donors. Their work helps to effect the regulatory and structural changes needed for broad WSS reform.

Their challenge is to replicate successful approaches, continue targeted learning efforts, and support reforms that will ensure the adoption of sustainable investments in the sector that in real terms help people rise from poverty.

Key projects

Selected other projects (by theme)

1. Water Supply & Sanitation

2. Water Resources Management

Click Here for all water related World Bank projects (Water & Sanitation; Water Resources Management; Irrigation & Drainage; & Hydropower).

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See also

External Resources


 WB projects - Central Asia.doc

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