Integrated Urban Water Management

  • The world’s urban population is estimated to grow by 2.6 billion over the next four decades, with most of that growth taking place in less developed regions.
  • By 2025, cities of one million or more will be home to more than 47 percent of the urban population.

Competition for water resources across all sectors will become fierce. At the same time, raw water sources risk becoming more contaminated through changes in land use patterns, poor solid waste management, inadequate wastewater treatment and aging infrastructure. As a consequence, the quantity and quality of water available to cities for agriculture, energy, industry and human development needs is and will remain in constant flux.

With many sectors relying on the same river basin, the competitive dynamics at play require an integrated approach to urban water management. Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) is a holistic mode of strategic planning. It takes a landscape view of water challenges by looking at competing water users in a given catchment or river basin. Through coordinated and flexible planning among water using sectors, IUWM allows for the optimal sequencing of traditional and new infrastructure with alternative management scenarios that leverage efficiencies and promote conservation. The emerging IWUM approach offers a more diverse and versatile set of options for dealing with larger and more complex urban water challenges.

WPP Global Support for IUWM

Over the past three years, the WPP has dedicated resources to mainstreaming the concept of IUWM in World Bank projects. WPP support has been instrumental in piloting IUWM across three developing regions and learning from those experiences. In each region, IUWM has been fostered through a different lens, with a slightly different but complementary definition and scope.  Details on each of the three individual regional activities are provided below. To summarize these regional activities, a synthesis report titled 'Integrated Urban Water Management - Lessons and Recommendations from Regional Experiences in Latin America, Central Asia, and Africa' has been published. This report aims to provide strategic, cross-regional recommendations and guidelines for operationalization of IUWM approaches.

In Latin America, the WPP supported a conceptual framework for implementing IUWM in key cities. The Program also funded the development of 5 case studies that analyzed the obstacles to sustainable IUWM practices and highlighted good practices, from improved central and local government coordination in Bogota, to an environmental approach to water quality in Tegucigalpa.

In Europe and Central Asia, the WPP’s support helped Baku in Azerbaijan develop solutions to water source development. An IUWM approach was used to identify the relative value of various water services, and prioritize sector investment needs for the future. The analysis of alternatives has provided Baku with an inclusive strategy for sector improvements; one that will have a significant impact on water quality and quantity for the growing city.

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Blog: Integrated Water Management in Cities: Can we get it right this time?
Webinar: Integrated Urban Water Management

In Africa, the WPP funded an analysis of the challenges and opportunities for IUWM. The work included an IUWM index of 31 sub-Saharan cities; a study on IUWM knowledge, attitudes and practices in 28 countries; and an assessment of potential opportunities and costs of IUWM in Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon. Combined, these activities showcase a strong demand for a comprehensive approach to water management in the region. The findings of this work are detailed in The Future of Water in African Cities: Why Waste Water?

Facilitating Knowledge Flow across Regions

In December 2012 the Water Partnership Program (WPP) supported cross-regional workshops in Africa and Latin America to share lessons in water management. The forums encouraged governments and project managers to demonstrate how Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) approaches are transforming the use and protection of water in their cities. In Brazil, participants presented the experiences of Seoul, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, and Bogota, and sparked a discussion on applying IUWM principles to Nairobi and smaller cities throughout Latin America. Participants at Africities 2012 in Senegal learned about best practices in IUWM from Africa as well as cities in Latin America that are working with the World Bank's Blue Water - Green Cities Initiative.

Video: World Bank Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist, David Michaud, discusses Sao Paulo's experience with IUWM approaches.

Through this support, the WPP has laid the foundation for mainstreaming IUWM in World Bank projects. The dissemination of the lessons from pilots has sparked interest by several cities, such as Nairobi and Sao Paulo, which are already planning to incorporate IUWM principles into projects with help from the World Bank. Going forward, WPP and other donors will continue to help countries in IUWM by supporting the following:

  • Harvest more best practices in IUWM from around the world, and document its economic benefits;
  • Operationalize IUWM approaches in different pilot cities;
  • Advocate for efficient and resilient cities as a cornerstone of green and inclusive growth;
  • Develop analytical work targeted to decision makers so they can better assess the benefits of traditional versus integrated approaches to water management; and
  • Share lessons across regions, through knowledge products like the WPP Case Profile, to provide evidence and stimulate debate towards IUWM solutions.
     

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