Country Innovation Story | Mongolia: Strengthening Urban Water Management

Strengthening Urban Water Management

By Bulgan, General Director, Department of Green Policy and Strategic Planning, MET; and Mr. L. Erdenbulgan, Head of Water Resources Division, MET on behalf of the MSP members

The Challenge

Mongolia receives only 378 mm of rainfall annually, which is a mere fraction of a global average of 900 mm. The country also has limited surface water sources, making its management a critical aspect in supporting economic activity. The effects of water scarcity are felt exponentially in urban areas where growth is concentrated. This is especially so for Ulaanbaatar, which alone represents about 70 percent of total potable water consumption in the country. Limited treatment of wastewater and low water use efficiency further diminish water availability. Studies by 2030 WRG indicated that the city will likely face a water demand-supply gap by 2030, with industry bearing the brunt1. This will not only hurt companies that depend heavily on water for their businesses, but also the people whose livelihoods are tied to the operations of those companies.

The Solution

In response to this situation, 2030 WRG partnered with Mongolia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the private sector, and civil society stakeholders to initiate a series of integrated regulatory and governance interventions to improve urban water management. Instead of treating urban water management challenges as isolated issues, this series of interventions addressed key bottlenecks throughout the entire water value chain. Until then, there had been no attempts to use such a comprehensive approach to urban water management.

The first phase of work sought to improve urban water management issues through the Water Pollution Fee Law (WPFL). However, successful implementation remained elusive five years after the law was established. This was largely due to an overly complex model for estimating pollution charges, especially within a context of limited technical and implementation capacity. While the private sector supported WPFL in principle, it had serious concerns about its feasibility precisely because of such limitations.

To help the Mongolian government improve the implementation of WPFL, the Mongolia 2030 WRG team shared best practices from relevant countries, highlighting simple water pollution fee models that incorporate economic incentives for pollution reduction and employ a simpler methodology to measure pollution in wastewater discharge. Based on this exercise and extensive analysis of local data to inform applicable charges, a preferred model was identified and contextualized for Ulaanbaatar. Once agreed with the private sector, the model was embedded in a revised license and discharge permit for water use and wastewater discharge. This model would be applicable to all consumers in the city.

The second phase of work addressed the issue of low water use efficiency. While potential reuse of treated wastewater in large industry and power plants in Ulaanbaatar was recognized as an effective means of optimizing freshwater use, the lack of standards to support reuse had been a hurdle in implementation. Working closely with the Ulaanbaatar Mayor’s office—and drawing upon established international practice—appropriate standards were proposed for large industrial water users that can potentially reduce their freshwater consumption by using treated wastewater. It is expected that the adoption of the WPFL will further promote the practice of water reuse among large water users such as power plants and beverage companies. It will also encourage them to treat wastewater on site for supply to willing off-takers, thereby avoiding not only network discharge fees, but also pollution fees. To complement the wastewater reuse measures, sector stakeholders have recently initiated a review of water tariffs, which is a key regulatory instrument to incentivize wastewater reuse and promote the judicious use of freshwater.

Progress to Date

The revised WPFL, which incorporates the proposed fee model, has been approved by a working group of Mongolia’s national cabinet. Adoption is expected to avoid discharge of over 61.2 million cubic meters of inadequately treated effluent into the Tuul river annually. Meanwhile, it has catalyzed innovation in small-scale onsite wastewater treatment systems. A model of institutional settings and engineering solutions that enables normal operation of wastewater treatment that is contextualized to Mongolia’s conditions is currently being piloted in the market. 

The Mongolian Agency for Standard and Metrology approved the “National Standards for Treated Wastewater Reuse” in June 2018, paving the way for the offtake of 50 million liters of treated wastewater daily from Ulaanbaatar’s central wastewater treatment facility, including wastewater from two nearby power plants. An investment of approximately US$300 million is planned for the development of infrastructure that will enable the reuse of wastewater for power plants.

Key Lessons

  • Adapting regulatory and governance instruments to locally relevant conditions can remove hurdles for the effective implementation of legislation and institutional systems necessary for effective urban water management. 
  • Alignment of incentives and a clear demonstration of impacts are key to driving implementation. 
  • Inclusive dialogue that involves the government at all relevant levels, the private sector, and civil society representatives are necessary for forging consensus on difficult and complex issues like building institutions and policies for effective urban water management.

Tanzania – Collective action unlocks water for all: the SUWAMA Usa-River Partnership

Climate change, population growth, deforestation, growing numbers of livestock, and the expansion of cultivated land are increasing pressures on the water resources of Tanzania’s Pangani River Basin. A stakeholder-led catchment stewardship initiative launched by 2030 WRG is working to change that narrative.

The first harvest of 2017 was disastrous for Ernest Pallangyo, a farmer and father of two from Kiwawa Village, in Usa River, Northern Tanzania.

Ernest, a smallholder farmer from Kiwawa Village in Usa-River, stands in front of the irrigation canal that supplies his village with water.

Like many small-scale growers, Ernest shares the water allowance allotted under a single water-use permit with neighboring farmers. Back in 2017, when it was his turn to irrigate his small plot of cucumbers, he often found the canal totally dry; others upstream from his village had diverted so much water that there was not a drop left for those downstream.

Eventually, the harsh Tanzanian sun took its toll. His crop withered and died.

To pay for the seeds, the fertilizer, and his portion of the permit, Ernest had taken out a loan. But when his crop failed, he was unable to repay it. In a desperate bid to maintain his relationship with the local creditor, he sold his family’s two goats. The animals that had once been an important source of income – as is custom, his wife reared livestock and sold milk and meat at the local market – and provided his family with milk – an important source of protein in a predominantly plant-based diet – were now gone. There would be no income until the next harvest. Ernest would have go into more debt in order to afford new seeds for the next planting season. The intervening months would be a struggle.

“We are farmers. Our livelihoods depend on water. Without it, we can’t survive,” he explained.

Ernest’s case is typical of the 2.7 million smallholder farmers residing in Tanzania’s Pangani Basin.

As the breadbasket of Tanzania, over three million people derive their livelihoods from the 500 km-long river and the 43,650 km2 of fertile land surrounding it. It is also a vital resource for national economic development. Commercial agricultural interests are growing while three hydropower schemes, located along the main river, have the potential to generate up to 17 percent of Tanzania’s electricity.

But the basin and people who rely on it are in trouble.

Climate change, population growth, deforestation, growing numbers of livestock, and the expansion of cultivated land are increasing pressures on the basin’s water resources. Water flows are decreasing, leading to more intense competition among water users and dire consequences for families whose livelihoods depend on the land—families like Ernest’s.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Tanzania’s economy” explained Angelina Nyamsambo, Agri-Finance Officer with the Tanzania Horticultural Association.

Agriculture generates around 30 percent of GDP, accounts for 28 percent of exports, employs 66 percent of the population, and is the mainstay of 80 percent of livelihoods in the country.

“Poor access to water reduces farmers’ productivity, limits their income, threatens food security and ultimately results in lower GDP” stressed Angelina.

But effective water management is a complex and volatile issue. Increasing competition for water among riparian stakeholders, each with varying degrees of access to water infrastructures like irrigation and storage, is complicated by the local politics of water allocation.

Weak monitoring and enforcement of regulations designed to control and protect water resources, alongside a general lack of awareness about efficient water use and sustainable farming practices and ineffective coordination among stakeholders further compound the challenge of fair and equitable water delivery in the sub-catchment.

Sustainable water resource management is a challenge nationwide. A recent Tanzania Economic Update, published by the World Bank, found that sub-optimal water management is already having a negative impact on Tanzania’s economy.

To strengthen collaborative approaches to water management in the country, Tanzania 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) – a public-private-civil-society partnership hosted by the World Bank Group – has been working with government and businesses to identify, develop and scale innovative solutions to the country’s water management challenges since 2013.

The Sustainable Water Management (SUWAMA) Usa-River Partnership is a stakeholder-led catchment stewardship initiative launched under one of Tanzania 2030 WRG’s flagship initiatives—the Kilimanjaro Water Stewardship Platform (KWSP)—that has been carrying out successful joint initiatives among public institutions, community organizations, and businesses to address water-related challenges in the sub-catchment since 2016.

Led by the Pangani Basin Water Board (BWB), in partnership with KWSP, the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through the International Water Stewardship Programme (IWaSP), the Upper Kikuletwa Water User Association (WUA), the Tanzanian Horticulture Association (TAHA), and Kiliflora Limited, SUWAMA engages water users all the way down to the village level.

The partnership focuses on improving water governance, water use efficiency, and water quality and supply, and works with the community to collectively identify priorities and strategies to do so.

“Our approach is based on the recognition that working separately is a risk for all users because they share the same water source. This means that all the different users need to get together and act collectively in order to help each other and themselves,” said Abraham Yesaya, Community Development Officer with the Pangani BWB, who manages the SUWAMA partnership.

Abraham Yesaya, Community Development Officer with the Pangani Basin Water Board, believes that community ownership is key to SUWAMA’s success.

According to Abraham, the most challenging aspect of the partnership was the initial period of community mobilization and coordination. But it has also provided the biggest payoff. “People need to own the project, otherwise nothing will ever be completed,” he said. “In this case, they do [have ownership], and it shows.”

The collaboration is a model of community-scale public-private cooperation, with private sector partners providing over half of the total financing. Other private sector partners have provided in-kind assistance, such as farming inputs, trees for rehabilitating damaged riparian land, and supplies for the reconstruction of dilapidated irrigation systems. Meanwhile, community members contribute their time and skills. Information placards placed at project sites recognize the contributions of local village associations alongside those of donors and private sector partners. Everyone is in it together.

After two years in operation, satisfaction with SUWAMA’s collective action approach is high.

Rogers is a transplant from South Africa who lives on a lush 90-acre piece of land that used to be a coffee plantation. Of those residents receiving water from the Usa-river, he is among the furthest downstream to be connected to its system of irrigation canals and farrows. Before SUWAMA, he recalled periods of up to six months during which no water flowed to his farm. Today, it flows without disruption.

“It doesn’t matter how much money or what kind of sophisticated technology you throw at the problem; it’s about people,” emphasized Rogers. “You need to get people together and get disciplined.” He hopes to see the model replicated in other communities.

To date, the partnership has succeeded in improving water security for more than a quarter of a million people living around Usa-River in the Kikuletwa Catchment, Pangani Basin: 25,000 people have received direct assistance through SUWAMA, while a further 800,000 have benefited from improvements in water access as a result of the partnership’s initiatives.

Back in Kiwawa, a project to address the source of the village’s water challenges is nearing completion. As part of its good water governance workstream, SUWAMA convened water users from upstream and downstream to collectively assess why there was insufficient water during certain parts of the year. They found that in addition to illegal abstractions occurring upstream, a significant amount of water was lost because the canals, and especially the farrows and abstraction points, were in a state of disrepair.

Since then, a community task force that was created to address these issues has been overseeing efforts to improve monitoring of water use in coordination with the Pangani BWB. The task force, part of the local Water Users Association, has also developed a constitution and bylaws to govern water use and launched a canal rehabilitation project that will prevent future water losses.

Members of a community task force convened by SUWAMA work together to improve the canal infrastructure leading to their village.

With funding from a consortium of water users from the community, a reconstruction of the primary diversion point from the main Usa-river canal has already been completed. Next-up is the abstraction point from which Kiwawa draws its water. Overseeing construction is Ernest, who now serves as Chairman of the Kiwawa Irrigator’s Association.

The reconstruction of the primary diversion point from the main Usa-river canal was among the first projects completed by SUWAMA.

He is looking forward to what he and his neighbors will be able to achieve with consistent and reliable access to water. For him and his family, he envisions green irrigated plots and abundant harvests. Maybe even a greenhouse for himself, with two goats tied up out front.

Women at the Heart of Innovation in Agriculture

By Karishma Gupte, 2030 WRG Partnerships Coordinator, Maharashtra Program

A study by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reveals that women could improve agricultural yields by 20-30 percent if given access to the same productive resources, such as modern inputs, technology, financial services, and training, that are available to men. In the Amravati district of Maharashtra, 1,900 women from two talukas (administrative divisions of a district) are gradually transforming the agricultural landscape by improving agricultural production and post-harvest processing. Several of the women I recently met in Amravati had interesting stories to share.

Through Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal (MAVIM), a government-funded program, women across Maharashtra, including the Amravati district, were encouraged to form Self Help Groups (SHGs) where they could be trained to cultivate a habit of saving and receive access to group credit through bank linkages. In such a way, several women in the district were able to secure loans for their family farms and personal use. MAVIM further encouraged these women to form consortia of SHGs at the taluka level that could support capacity building in areas such as social and leadership skills. As a result, women found the confidence to venture out of their homes, consider possibilities to start their own businesses, and apply for bank loans. The United Nationals Development Programme (UNDP), with the goal of empowering women through Project Disha, trained women in the SHG consortium of two talukas in the Amravati district on post-harvest management, which led to increased income opportunities for them. Through diverse partnerships and support from the private sector which procured produce from these women farmers, these women became knowledgeable about potential business opportunities for them in the agricultural value chain.

One of the woman farmers who started their own businesses is Rekha Sarodayay. Rekha is a sourcing manager for one of the SHG consortia from the Wakiraipur village of Amravati. She oversees the sourcing of pigeon peas from three villages, dealing primarily with men; traditionally, such interactions are restricted. In addition to her work as a sourcing manager, Rekha also trains women from the villages in best practices for post-harvest management. Drawing upon the training she has received through various programs, Rekha formed her own small enterprise of making wheat noodles three years ago. Along the way, Rekha had to overcome many difficulties, including getting access to finance to buy the machine she needs to make noodles. She borrowed Rs.25000 (US$370) from her SHG at an annual interest rate of 24 percent and invested her savings to start her business. With access to productive resources, Rekha built a thriving business in less than two years and was able to return the funds she borrowed while contributing to the household income. Today, there are over 150 small businesses owned by women like Rekha in the two talukas. These women, who manage complex households while pursuing multiple livelihood options, continue to inspire confidence in other women of the district.

In support of women farmers like Rekha, Reema Sathe left her comfortable corporate job to build a women-friendly supply chain, offering new markets to 15,000 women smallholder farmers. Her team supports a women-run cooperative factory by training them to make baking products using less water-intensive grains like barley, buckwheat, and oats. Through her online platform, Happy Roots, these women were able to sell directly to consumers, thereby eliminating the costs that comes with using middlemen.

Women entrepreneurs like Rekha and Reema, are leading some of the most exciting agri-innovations on the ground, and they are a source of inspiration for those who are passionate about empowering women in rural areas. Today, organizations are keen to invest in women with the aim to close to gender gap, improve rural livelihoods and income, and make rural families and communities more food secure. To highlight such examples, 2030 WRG worked with UNDP India on a compendium of case studies from Maharashtra that exemplify women-centric partnership models that have positively impacted agricultural value chains and have the potential to scale. By challenging gender stereotypes, these case studies could catalyze transformative change in the role of women in Maharashtra and beyond.

The publication, ‘Gender and Water in Agriculture and Allied Sectors’ was jointly developed by 2030 WRG and UNDP India and was launched on 26 February 2019. Read or download the publication here.

For more information, contact Karishma Gupte,

Blue Certificate Awarding_CFonseca

Rewarding Water-Responsible Companies is Key to Success in Addressing Global Water Security

Karin Krchnak

By Karin Krchnak, 2030 WRG Program Manager

Over the past fifteen years, I have seen a rapid evolution in corporate actors in recognizing water risks to their operations. In response, some have taken measures to ensure that all water is returned to its originating watershed while making sure that returned water is as clean or cleaner than it was before. But to keep the momentum going, we need to think about how we can encourage and motivate companies that will push them to collaborate more with governments, other companies, and civil society toward realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Equally as important, we need to bring forward those companies that unfortunately have yet to prioritize water.

The positive feelings that come from rewarding good behavior are natural in humans. In fact, such feelings can do wonders. I see it every day with my own daughter; when she does well and gets recognition, she feels like she wants to, and can, do more.

In 2016, the 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) and its partners created the Blue Certificate, an initiative that is one of the workstreams of Peru 2030 WRG’s multi-stakeholder platform (MSP). Led by Peru’s National Water Authority (ANA), the program encourages companies in the private sector to assess the water footprint of their processes and become water-responsible companies.

Peru is a beautiful and amazing country with lush mountains and forests. But you do not have to go far out of Lima to see that it is water stressed. In fact, Peru ranks among the top 30 countries that suffer from chronic water stress. Approximately USD45.7 billion in investments are required by 2035 to meet Peru’s water needs. As is the case everywhere in the world, public finances can only do so much, and the private sector can play a transformational role in closing this infrastructure financing gap. It is therefore unsurprising that many governments stood up in 2015—when the SDGs were being adopted in New York City—and said that companies in the private sector are needed if we were to meet the SDGs by 2030.

It makes me so proud that in 2016 the Peruvian government and 2030 WRG co-developed the Blue Certificate program, whereby companies are awarded the Blue Certificate if they fulfill three criteria: (1) develop a Water Footprint Assessment following ISO 14046; (2) commit and accomplish water footprint reductions; and (3) set out and implement a program of shared value with the communities in the watersheds they work in.

I had the honor of joining the recent Award Ceremony in Lima, Peru, on 7th November when Compañía Eléctrica El Platanal S.A., Compañía Minera Coimolache S.A. (Buenaventura Group), Nestlé Perú, and Mexichem Perú were awarded the Blue Certificate. Four additional companies also received recognition for applying for the certification process. Fabiola Munoz Dodero, Peru’s Minister of Environment, spoke at the event, and highlighted the role the program plays in driving action for healthier watersheds in Peru. It is this kind of recognition by governments of the private sector’s role in improving water resources that gives me hope that we can make progress toward the SDGs.

But recognition must fundamentally be about results if we want to ensure that our water resources will, in fact, be better in 2030 in comparison with our current situation. To date, the Blue Certificate has resulted in a reduction of approximately 79 million liters of freshwater use per year and a reduction of approximately 137 million liters of non-treated wastewater discharge. Thirteen companies have already presented their Shared-Value Projects in: (i) efficient domestic water use; (ii) rural irrigation improvement; (iii) wastewater reuse in public spaces; (iv) and promoting a water conservation culture. The projects are expected to reach approximately 9,000 direct beneficiaries and 20,000 indirect beneficiaries. In addition to a focus on results, there needs to be a way for companies to keep active and motivate others. At the 7th November Awards Ceremony, Mexichem—the first company to be awarded the Certificate—renewed their commitment. Through this renewal process, I hope other companies will see that they too can make a difference in making their country more water secure and thereby their own operations more sustainable.

In the past, I have heard people say that there are too many competing initiatives in water. My first thought is often “really?” For a challenge as big and complex as water resources management, it makes sense to welcome the participation of every company—and other stakeholders—that wish to become better stewards of our shared water resources.

There is no silver bullet to solve our water problems. But if we can find a way to harness the passion and energy of everyone and bring together our efforts in true collaboration, we can create meaningful change. In closing, I would like to invite every company that wants to become more water responsible to learn more about what 2030 WRG can do to help them achieve that goal.

More information

Photo credits: COSUDE

2030 WRG Partners with Government of Brazil to Lower Barriers to Industrial Reuse of Effluents

This blog was written by Stela Goldenstein

Brazil 2030 WRG recently established a working group in the metropolitan area of Campinas. The goal was to identify potential opportunities for investments in new industrial reuse units that treat sewage from cities in this region. So far, the Water Basin Agency and the Water Basin Committees of the Piracicaba, Jundiaí and Capivari rivers basins have developed the most successful institutional model for water management. They have brought water users and water managers together to regulate, plan, and invest in projects aimed at improving water quality and quantity in the region.

A conurbation of four metropolises, which are located in the state of São Paulo in southeast Brazil, houses a population of almost 34 million inhabitants. Together, these four metropolises generate a significant portion of the country’s GDP. Their vibrant economies are highly interconnected, and there is constant movement of people, information, and products across these four metropolises. These four metropolises are also tied to each other in another way; although they are situated in different watersheds, they share their water supply.

Keeping pace

The central metropolis is the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo. It has more than 21 million inhabitants and is installed at the headwaters of the River Tietê Basin. Despite the region’s immense water need, local water production is extremely low, and cannot meet the demands installed. Over the years, as the region expanded, more and more investments were poured into the region. To keep pace with the population growth and economic activities in the region, water was captured and transposed from nearby springs to the region.

As the regions—especially the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo—continue to grow, competition for water between their people and industries will only intensify. Climate change and poor water resources management further aggravate the situation. The resulting water stress is, arguably, the most serious systemic problem that the government and private sectors face in their planning processes.

Getting the water needed

Some will say that companies should be given priority because without water they need for their industrial productions, these companies will not be able to operate, and jobs will be lost. But technical and legal definitions define that public needs always deserve priority. The range of programs and investments needed to mitigate the conflict includes efforts to reduce the demands of water, as well as to adequate de offer, changing the standards for the supply and consumption of water.

Although industries need water for their production, they do not need high quality water that is safe enough for human consumption. Done right, final effluents from domestic sewage treatment plants operated by utility concessionaires should be of sufficient quality for industrial production. In other words, wastewater reuse by industries could play an important role in the effort to manage water scarcity in Brazil.

Sincere and open dialogue

The complexity and enormity of the task to manage water scarcity in Brazil call for an integrated and consistent set of actions and investments, including institutional framework adjustments, specific regulations, and innovative procedures to finance projects . For that to happen, there must be sincere and open dialogue between different spheres of government, between public and private institutions, and between utilities and municipalities, who are ultimately the grantors of water.

These stakeholders must discuss and come to an agreement on what they need to do to ensure sufficient reserves for potabilization. They also need to come an agreement about the scope and amount of investments needed to address the water needs of the population and the private sector in an equitable and sustainable manner.

Overcoming barriers

As mentioned earlier, reusing wastewater for industrial production holds great promise to address water scarcity in Brazil. Unfortunately, there are currently only isolated cases of wastewater reuse by industries in Brazil. Up to now, there are still many institutional barriers that stand in the way of increased wastewater reuse by industries. For this reason, Brazil 2030 WRG is working with the government and private sector to overcome these barriers.

In a similar fashion, the state government and industries of the regional also established a working group. They recently organized a technical seminar to initiate the consultation process for all stakeholders involved. Cities, their utilities, the State sanitation services, the region’s water-consuming industries, the state environmental agency, and the federal government all participated in the process. If this trend continues, industrial reuse of effluents from sewage treatment plants may soon become the norm.

This effort begun with a technical seminar to initiate the consultation process for all stakeholders involved. Today, cities, their utilities, the State sanitation services, the region’s water-consuming industries, the state environmental agency, and the federal government all participate in the process. If this trend continues, industrial reuse of effluents from sewage treatment plants may soon become official policy and an opportunity.

Photo credit:

Pacific Institute: Collective Action Toward Water Security in Brazil

NEWS SOURCE: Pacific Institute

Collective Action Toward Water Security in Brazil

By Abbey Warner and Giuliana Chaves Moreira
March 29, 2018


This year, the Global Compact Brazil Network and the CEO Water Mandate organized an event to bring together the Brazilian private sector, government, NGOs, and other organizations seeking to address water risks in Brazil to discuss water security challenges and solutions. The event, titled “Collaboration for Water Security in Brazil,” took place on March 19, in parallel with the 8th World Water Forum in Brasília, Brazil.


One significant outcome of the event was the partnership announced between the Global Compact Brazil Net, the CEO Water Mandate, and the 2030 Water Resources Group in São Paulo. Since mid-2017, the 2030 Water Resources Group has been working to advance water security in São Paulo through projects to reuse effluents from domestic sewage treatment stations and projects to improve the performance of sanitation services in small and medium-sized municipalities. The partnership formed during the 8th World Water Forum event will focus on advancing water security in Brazil through water reuse and the circular economy.

It will take coordinated action from a variety of stakeholders, including the private sector, government, and civil society, to meaningfully advance water security in Brazil. The Water Action Hub provides companies and others with the ability to connect to projects happening near them or find potential partners for future water stewardship action.


Could linking farmers to markets be the answer to poverty reduction?



Sugarcane field

By 2050, we will need to increase food production by 100% to feed expanding populations in developing countries. This is either from more farmers producing more food or, the same number of farmers producing more food. Enhancing farmer incomes by increased agricultural productivity will reduce migration to urban areas and ultimately, improve food security. But without assured buyers for the produce, this may not necessarily be the case.

I recently visited sugarcane farmers in western Maharashtra in India to learn why they continue to grow sugarcane although it is a water intensive crop. Turns out, sugarcane is resistant to most pests, needs little care and has a well-established supply chain. Given that the crop has an assured buyer in sugar factories, farmers have little to worry about their household income from agriculture. Even if a farmer has a meagre 2 hectares of land, he prefers growing sugarcane as it has a guaranteed return on investment. This makes it difficult for the farmer to give up the crop. At present, Maharashtra accounts for 34% of the national sugar output. Consequently, several government schemes and initiatives are designed to make sugarcane more water productive i.e. shifting from flood to drip irrigation, and improving sugarcane productivity. Currently, average sugarcane yield in Maharashtra is approximately 60 to 80 tonnes per hectare whereas its yields can potentially increase to 100 to 120 tonnes per hectare.

On the other hand, focusing on a particular crop might not always lead to positive outcomes. Farmers in drought prone district of Yavatmal in eastern Maharashtra had a different story to tell. Cotton, a dominant crop in this region was infested by the pink ball worm in the last season (2017-18). As a result, farmers faced several losses and did not receive the expected price in the market. Several women farmers organized themselves into self-help groups with the aim of supporting family income due to the losses incurred. But lack of market connectivity dissuaded them from taking actions to develop products such as baskets, papadums, jams, etc. Limited market access and low selling opportunities prevented them from contributing to the household income which could have compensated for the losses they realized through the ravaged cotton crop.

Linking farmers to the markets may help them move out of poverty by assured buyers for their produce and guaranteed income – giving a greater sense of security. Although establishing market linkages may take time, initiatives such as the new model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing Act 2017, the government is keen on looking at agricultural marketing from a holistic manner. This is while giving farmers the opportunity to directly sell produce in the market or to whoever is willing to offer the best price without an intermediary. Organizations such as the International Finance Corporation is exploring innovative ways to unlock private sector investments and offer advisory services that help mobilize markets. The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030WRG), hosted by the World Bank, is bringing together public, private and civil society representatives to deliberate and discuss new business models and market-based solutions to support an end-to-end integrated approach for agriculture development, with a focus on water security.

In an effort to bring farmers closer to the market, in Karnataka in the Ramthal area, 2030 WRG facilitated partnership agreements between agribusiness companies (retailers, exporters, processing units) and Government of Karnataka for offtake of high-value agricultural and horticultural produce, thereby improving farmer incomes and livelihoods. Similar efforts are being carried out by 2030 WRG in western Maharashtra to maximize water productivity and improve market linkages for farmers.

Finding new ways to connect smallholder farmers to the market is critical for poverty reduction and improved livelihoods. It can also stem the flow of farmers to urban areas in search of better jobs and transform the rural environment as a place of production and value addition. Although realizing the vision will require a more collaborative effort from the government, private sector, civil society and rural communities, its results will be far outreaching.


Karishma_Blog_photoThis blog was written by Karishma Gupte, Coordinator, Maharashtra, 2030 Water Resources Group, The World Bank Group





Further reading:

Meandering river Peru

A disruptive approach towards achieving the SDGs

Meandering river Peru

This blog has been written by Karin Krchnak, 2030 WRG Program Manager, as part of our newsletter blog series.

Karin KrchnakFor the first time in my 25-year career, during the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 in New York City, I heard government after government note the important role of the private sector in addressing our global water challenges. It took a great deal of effort to conclude the SDGs and the agenda is one that charts a better future for our precious planet. That is if—if we can meet those goals or at least make significant enough progress on them. The comments by governments in New York in 2015 highlight the realization that no set of actors alone can ensure the SDGs will be met.

The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) was formed out of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos where there was a realization already in the early 2000s among corporate leaders that water issues, both quality and quantity, had the potential to significantly impact their operations, both current and future. Water topped the list of WEF Global Risks Report in 2015 for the first time, with many of the other risks (e.g., extreme weather events, failure of climate change adaptation) linked to how we manage water. The outlook is not getting better, with a business as usual approach by countries leading to approximately 40% gap between freshwater supply and demand 2030.

On January 1, 2018, 2030 WRG officially moved from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), where it sat after its incubation at WEF, to the World Bank, specifically to the World Bank Water Global Practice. While the IFC will remain an integral part of 2030 WRG, the change is intended to scale 2030 WRG’s innovative multi-stakeholder approach to help governments meet the extensive challenge of the water security agenda and leverage the wider potential of the World Bank Group to build momentum to help meet the SDGs.

I truly believe that only through collective action across stakeholders will be able to ensure a more sustainable future. In addition to my new role as Manager of 2030 WRG, I remain active in the World Water Council (WWC). The 8th World Water Forum, hosted WWC and the Government of Brazil, to be held in Brasilia in March 2018 will include the business community. A Business Day will be held the day before to the Forum, to be hosted by leading business associations. In addition, there will be High Level Panels with a focus on business and water scarcity. This is an evolution that I have witnessed first-hand in water fora over the last several decades where stakeholders are coming together to share and learn from each other, including the private sector as active contributors.

We all have a steep road ahead of us when it comes to water and meeting the SDGs. Not simply SDG6 on water, but all the others (e.g., energy, agriculture, poverty) that depend on us getting water right—as I termed it SDG6+. 2030 WRG has supported the creation of approximately 46 working groups across 14 country engagements where government, private sector and civil society are working together to reduce the gap between water supply and demand by digging in together on such areas as mining, wastewater reuse, and agricultural supply chains.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) are not new. I have been involved in many in my career. But having joined the recent Steering Board Meeting of the MSP in Karnataka, India, this is the first time where I have seen a platform where government actors across agencies (e.g., water, agriculture, planning), the private sector, and civil society take joint decisions on improving water resource management and then follow up with action. MSPs take time to build but once formed on a basis of trust and agreed understanding of the hydro-economic situation of a country or basin, the potential is there to drive toward action on the SDGs.

The MSPs that 2030 WRG has helped develop include the highest levels of government, private sector and civil society. They take decisions on actions in watersheds, basins, and policy changes at the national level. While each of the MSPs is transforming water resource management in their own country or state, they are also shaping the broader agenda on water. MSPs in Mongolia, Bangladesh and Peru, for example, are breaking through on economic incentives and water valuation, something that I have seen missing in the water space in the last decades but which has also gained traction through the High-Level Panel on Water. MSPs thus function individually but also collectively.

I feel honored to be leading 2030 WRG, as its disruptive approach is a part of the process toward achieving the SDGs. We could not progress without the efforts of all the partners and the continued engagement with new ones as we climb the steep road to 2030. I truly hope that in 2030 we can look back and say we achieved the SDGs — or at least made significant progress toward them. I do not know how I can look my daughter in her eyes if I did not feel I had at least some small part in that.

Karnataka Multi Stakeholder Partnership for Water: A Journey in Progress

Most people who work in the water sector would associate their work in some way with Sustainable Development Goal 6 which has several objectives related to the achievement of water security in its several manifestations. But there is little discussion of the fact that the path to the realization of Goal 6 lies in Goal 17 which is about the need for partnerships. This is a journey which is not always straightforward, sometimes not in a tidy sequence and almost always requires patience and persistence. Despite these possible road bumps, the 2030 World Resources Group has embarked on this journey in several countries, among them India and among the states in India also in Karnataka.

The first step has been to arrive at a productive working relationship with the State Government based on a mutual identification of the water security challenges that need addressing. This is the first part of the journey. In turn, this needs a sustained effort to bring together a group of organizations in the private and not for profit sectors that can bring competence and commitment to projects and processes that can show demonstrable results in specific locations. There is then the challenge of scaling up the approaches demonstrated in these projects across the state.

The work streams that have been identified for this purpose are particularly relevant for a number of reasons.

The problems of impending water stress make the promotion of efficient use of water for agriculture, by far the biggest user of water, an imperative for conservation and sustainability. This is very much a direction that the State government is committed to following and in which farmers and private sector organizations can work together to apply new technologies, drip irrigation among others. By working on sugar cane and paddy, the biggest users of water in the agriculture sector the potential for scale is enormous. But conservation of water has to be combined with efforts to support livelihoods of farmers which is why the promotion of farm to market corridors is so important as another step in the chain to maximize the benefits of water-efficient agriculture.

The workstream on the treatment, recovery and reuse of wastewater can benefit not just urban residents but also generate water for industrial use and agriculture in the surrounding hinterlands of towns and cities. Which is why the State Government’s policies on mainstreaming this approach are so important. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s interest in systemizing this approach is not only of benefit to industrial users of water but also is a way of demonstrating private sector’s support to the larger goals of sustainability and the promotion of public benefit.

These efforts require not just continuous effort but also the ability to record, analyze and disseminate the results to make a strong case for such approaches over ever increasing geographies. And imagination is needed to turn large amounts of data to usable information and knowledge, not just to members of the partnership and other practitioners but also more widely to members of the lay public. This is where civil society organizations can play a significant part.

As the work grows in scale and complexity there will be an inclination to immerse ourselves in our own projects and work streams. Without compromising any attention to detail it will be important to keep ourselves abreast of the work of other organizations in the state (eg the Gnana Aayoga, the State Knowledge Commission and the Advance Center of Integrated Water Management) which are also committed to the development of sound water policies and practice. Even if complete convergence is not always possible, duplication and contradiction can be avoided in this way.

Ravi Narayanan
Co-Chair Steering Board
Karnataka Multi Stakeholder Partnership for Water

Ravi Narayanan is currently Chair of the Asia Pacific Water Forum, International Mentor to the Japan Water Forum, Chair of the Water Integrity Network and Advisor to the Arghyam Foundation in India. He was a member of the World Panel on Financing Water Infrastructure (the Camdessus Panel) and the UN Millennium Task Force on Water and Sanitation. He is an associate of the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore, India. With degrees in Physics and Engineering from Delhi and Cambridge Universities, Ravi began his career in the corporate sector in the UK and India before moving to the not-for-profit sector. As part of the latter, he was formerly Asia Director for Action Aid and Chief Executive of Water Aid. He was awarded an honorary CBE by the UK Government in 2009 for water and sanitation services to poor communities in Asia and Africa. Ravi Narayanan is a resident of Bangalore.

WEF Blog: “Why the answer to water insecurity is working together”

Davos, Switzerland – 25 Jan 2018

This article is part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and is written by Elsa Galarza Contreras, Ministry of Environment of Peru and Jane Nelson, Director, Corporate Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

Water insecurity poses one of the greatest risks and leadership challenges of our generation. It threatens the well-being and livelihoods of millions of people. It has started to undermine food, energy and industrial production and damage economic growth prospects in many countries. It raises the spectre of failing systems, large-scale involuntary migration, political instability and conflict.

Demand for water is expected to exceed supply by 40% by 2030. New technologies, financing mechanisms, delivery models, voluntary standards and policy and regulatory innovations will be required to address this growing gap. Governments must take the lead in enabling these activities and making tough choices to allocate water resources among different uses and users. To be effective, however, they will need to consult and cooperate more strategically with stakeholders in business and civil society.

In the absence of such collaboration, it will be impossible to achieve the type of technical, behavioral and political changes that are needed to improve water governance at global and national levels, as well as in water management and local use. The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) demonstrates what is possible.

The 2030 WRG was established in 2008 as an informal consortium of some of the World Economic Forum’s members, including the IFC, McKinsey & Company, the Barilla Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, New Holland Agriculture, SABMiller, Standard Chartered Bank and Syngenta. Today, it has evolved into a multidimensional, public-private partnership with country-led implementation platforms at its core. Hosted by the World Bank Group, its mission is “to help countries achieve water security by 2030 by facilitating collective action between government, the private sector and civil society”.

Through multistakeholder platforms in 14 countries and states, some 600 organizations from different sectors are working together on projects and policy reforms with support from the 2030 WRG team. They range from operational projects, such as agricultural, industrial and municipal water use efficiency, to strategic initiatives, such as urban-industrial security and river basin governance.

The collaborative approach has helped to build trusted relationships between different sectors as well as across silos within government and industry. In Peru, for example, five ministers serve on the country’s WRG steering board. The highest levels of government have made commitments in Bangladesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. In South Africa and Mongolia, agricultural, mining and manufacturing companies are cooperating individually and through industry associations. Efforts are underway to increase engagement with civil society organizations, farmers and citizens.

The evolution of the 2030 WRG has not been without setbacks and challenges. Some initiatives have been disbanded and others adapted in response to changes in leadership, external evaluations and shared experimentation and learning. As 2030 WRG approaches its 10th anniversary, the model reflects five early lessons for leaders working on water security and other complex, systemic challenges:

  1. Government in the lead: The multistakeholder approach offers an alternative to what has primarily been a public sector role when ultimate responsibility still rests with government. A core priority of the approach is to help address the capacity gaps and overcome the political constraints that many governments face in managing water resources effectively and transparently.
  2. Local ownership and collaboration from business and civil society: Greater inclusion and decision-making by local business and civic leaders have been essential in identifying shared priorities, designing feasible solutions and creating the incentives and buy-in needed for implementation.
  3. A combined focus on data and analysis, stakeholder dynamics and the political economy of change: The 2030 WRG has learned the importance of balancing rigorous data and a technical understanding of water challenges with an appreciation of the institutional and political context. In addition to highlighting water security as a potential constraint on economic growth, it considers social and environmental concerns to generate a sense of shared urgency among diverse stakeholder interests.
  4. Strong ‘backbone support’: A challenge of many multistakeholder platforms is that they unite parties who are at best unfamiliar and at worst distrustful of each other. Backbone support from a team that has the ability to stimulate, coordinate and support collaboration among such parties is essential. It requires a combination of technical expertise alongside the ability to think long-term, live with uncertainty, and learn and adapt along the way.
  5. Vital roles for individual champions: Individual leaders have been essential to the evolution of the 2030 WRG. They have ranged from government ministers to corporate CEOs and practitioners from the participating organizations. Many have taken real, personal risk, investing their time, effort, influence, networks and, in some cases, reputation as vocal supporters for a collective effort they do not control and the outcomes of which are uncertain.

The 2030 WRG offers a promising approach to tackling the complex, systemic challenges of achieving water security and resolving shortages in the world’s most essential resource. If it can demonstrate the effectiveness of systems leadership and collaboration in the water sector, there will be enormous potential for this kind of approach to have a broader role in expediting progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

This draws on the findings of a report on the 2030 Water Resources Group published by the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School.

Read or download the executive summary here >>

Read or download the full report here >>

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