World Bank, U.S. to Reaffirm Commitment to Global Water Issues on World Water Day


  • Clinton and Zoellick to mark World Water Day with agreement to collaborate
  • Accord enables knowledge and resource-sharing with US agencies
  • Civil society groups join Bank Group, US government to catalyze action

March 21, 2011 –To mark World Water Day, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will sign an agreement making it easier for the U.S. Government and World Bank to work together to address global water challenges.

While the Bank and the U.S. have partnered before on water issues, this will provide the World Bank access to experts in 17 U.S. government agencies and departments to address issues such as lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, diminishing aquifers, drought, flooding, and climate change impacts.

The signing, before which both Mr. Zoellick and Secretary Clinton are to make remarks, will take place at 2 pm. It will be preceded by a program featuring Steve Hilton of the Conrad Hilton Foundation, who will announce a major pledge for water, US CSO leaders, and — via videolink from Cape Town, South Africa — His Royal Highness Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange. 

Look at almost any poverty issue: You will find water. A lack of safe water and adequate sanitation is the world’s single largest cause of illness, responsible for two million deaths a year. That’s four people every minute – most of them children,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. “The World Bank Group is helping countries balance competing water demands for agriculture, energy, people, and the environment.  The enhanced partnership we are launching today with the United States will give a real boost to this work.”


World Water Day

In 1993, the United Nations has designated March 22 World Water Day to help focus attention on delivering better service to the billions of people who still don’t have access to a toilet or safe drinking water. 

Others are marking Water Day in remarkable ways. Dutch cyclists Joost Notenboom and Michiel Roodenburg are riding their bikes from Alaska, U.S. to Ushuaia, Argentina to raise awareness of the need for action on the global water crisis.

The two cyclists are halfway through their 18-month journey, and their goal of raising awareness of the water and sanitation crises is bearing fruit.  They stopped in Nicaragua this month to visit World Bank-financed projects. In Managua, a crowd turned out to greet them as they learned from residents how the project will bring clean water and sanitation services to the city’s low-income barrios.


Results of Bank Group support include Kazakhstan’s restoration of the Aral Sea ecosystem and  livelihoods of those depending on it, and China’s use of technology to draw less water from aquifers while increasing the productivity and incomes of 360,000 farmers. Technical assistance worth $7 million from the Bank-managed Water and Sanitation Program leveraged over $70 million from public, private, and community sources to provide eight million people with access to improved sanitation.

The Bank Group is the largest single external source of financing and technical assistance to governments for water and sanitation. In 2010, it provided US$5.7 billion in water financing, $40.8 million in knowledge and technical assistance through the Water and Sanitation Program, and $754 million in guarantees for water investments through the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The International Finance Corporation has provided $1.4 billion in water financing to private corporations since 2003, and also provided advisory services on public-private partnerships for bulk water, distribution, wastewater management and irrigation.

Additional Resources:

World Water Day –UN Official Site

World Water Day – Civil Society Coalition site

Water and Sanitation Program

World Bank Water Unit

YouTube: Water and Sanitation Program

Memorandum of Understanding

Cycling Dutchmen Mark World Water Day in Nicaragua

GPOBA: World Water Day 2011: Water for Cities