April 27, 2010 -- The private sector is gaining increasing recognition as an important partner in ensuring improved access to water and sanitation services for billions of the world’s poor.
At a Spring Meetings roundtable to raise awareness on water and sanitation challenges, EVP and CEO Lars Thunell said, “Until the price of water reflects the cost of delivery, private sector participation in the sector will remain minimal, denying communities the benefits of the innovation and efficiency that could bring us closer to attaining the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation.”
Innovating with Private Enterprises
To demonstrate private enterprise’s growing impact on the sector, Thunell cited several successful innovations to deliver clean water to low-income areas, such as the communal water connections installed by IFC client Manila Water Company in the Philippines.
Opening the panel, World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala shared personal anecdotes about earlier experiences with the lack of access to water and sanitation, which strengthened her resolve to tackle the problem.
She noted, “Water is an essential of life. But the sad reality today is that many children in the world still have no choice but to walk miles every day to fetch water for their families.”
Other participants in the high-level panel included the chair of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Sonjica, USAID Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator Gloria Steele, and Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority General Director Ek Sonn Chan. Katty Kay of the BBC moderated the discussion.
Promoting Global Water Security
As part of a broader strategy to promote global water security, IFC provides leadership and financing for a variety of initiatives, raising awareness and support for new models to address sector challenges.
In 2009, IFC and McKinsey and Company prepared the “Charting Our Water Future” report in collaboration with several major companies.
Since 2000, IFC has invested almost $1.5 billion in the water sector, reaching over 30 million people.
Contributed by Zibu Sibanda, Infrastructure/Communications Practice Group