World Bank reaffirms water reform approach

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The World Bank has released a report entitled ‘Water Supply and Sanitation Policies, Institutions, and Regulation: Adapting to a Changing World’ in response to the growing concern over chronic challenges undermining water supply and sanitation services.

The report investigates policies, institutions, and regulation (PIR) and their implementation by governments. Recognition of the importance of PIR, and water governance generally, is growing with regard to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the face of increasing shocks and stresses in the water sector. However, mainstreaming and implementation of PIR into concrete reforms and investment programmes has, thus far, been sporadic.

Taking a new approach to water sector reform, the World Bank launched its PIR initiative in 2016. Previously, global initiatives offering technical solutions aimed at expanding water and sanitation infrastructure lacked sufficient understanding of the regulatory framework necessary to improve service delivery and operate infrastructure in a sustainable manner.

This first phase of the PIR initiative was followed by a second phase (2019-2022), which has now been concluded. The aim of this second phase was to put the concept into practice, refine the concept, and inform the development of a tool for operationalising PIR in government and development partner programmes.

This recent report reviews the application of this PIR framework globally and reconfirms its importance along with the alignment of incentives to support more effective service delivery.

It advocates greater action by policy makers, development partners, international financial institutions, and civil society and includes insights from various countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, the city of Chennai in India, Mozambique, and Uzbekistan.

The report is accompanied by the PIR Framework Tool, which provides more detailed guidance on how to undertake policy discussion on PIR and identify reform options, as well as how to apply it in practice.