World Bank asks countries to prioritise water sector budget

The World Bank has urged governments around the world to prioritise the water sector budget to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 — ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all.

The global director for the global water practice of the World Bank Group, Saroj Kumar Jha, conveyed this during the 10th World Water Forum panel discussion on Tuesday.

Themed “Proposing the Establishment of a Global Water Fund,” the discussion was held in Nusa Dua, Badung, Bali.

“So, the first message to everybody in this room is that the governments need to prioritize water and give them (the people, as in) the theme of the World Water Forum … water for shared prosperity, which tells that water is fundamental for human capital and for economic growth, and for prosperity,” he said.

He highlighted that in most countries, especially developing countries, the water sector is still the most underfunded.

“In fact, there are countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which spend only 2 to 3 percent of their annual budget on water. However, they spend 7 percent on agriculture, 13 percent on transport, and 26 percent on energy,” he informed.

Jha also highlighted that most developing countries spend less than 2 percent of their annual budget on water.

This, according to the World Bank global director, reflects how water sector funding is prioritised in the public budget in most developing countries.

For this reason, he encouraged governments to improve the way they allocate public budgets, especially for the water sector, to spur economic growth and achieve the SDGs.

“There is no way you can achieve that (economic growth) by spending less than 2 percent of your budget on water. Do not expect the private sector to come when you don’t prioritise us … you got to lead the sector by having the right kind of policies (and) regulations, and of course, backed up by appropriate financing in the sector,” he stressed.

Jha further said that there is still a very large gap between funding conditions in the water sector and efforts to reach the target of SDG 6.

“So, just to summarize in terms of where we are … we have huge gaps in this sector in terms of financing. Most developing countries are not on track to meet the SDGs, and I repeat this statement … most developing countries are not on track to meet the SDGs,” he added.

Countries around the world have 6 years remaining to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 agenda, including SDG 6.

According to UNICEF data, about 2.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and half the global population does not have access to safe sanitation.


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