Transforming Water-Scarce Cities into Water-Secure Cities through Collaboration


By serving as a connecting thread between water stressed cities, WSC offers a new avenue for knowledge sharing on water success stories and challenges to spark breakthroughs in best practices. WSC also offers an integrated water approach that encapsulates political, social, and institutional dimensions. The initiative is structured around the following key objectives:

  • Providing a toolbox and strategies for cities to support water resilience with knowledge products that highlight integrated water solutions.
  • Creating stronger connections between water scarce cities and sharing solutions by providing a platform for practitioners and experts, as well as global thought leaders and institutions.
  • Supporting water scarce cities with concrete engagement, including providing technical assistance for new water management approaches, technological advancements, and political practices.

From wastewater reuse to aquifer rehabilitation, below are some success stories that WSC is sharing among cities.

For example, Marrakech (Morocco) is rising above the challenge of urban water scarcity by diversifying its water resources portfolio, engaging in participatory groundwater management, and curbing its water demand by reducing leakages in its water networks.

In Orange County, California (USA), authorities have successfully reduced reliance on external water supplies by reusing wastewater, and using its aquifer as a safety net.

In Malta, a water-scarce island located in the Mediterranean, impressive efforts have been made to diversify water resources, including desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater and harvesting rainwater.

The City of Windhoek, Namibia is increasing water security through multiple approaches, including storing water for future use through careful aquifer management, and using direct reclamation of drinking water from domestic sewage effluent. In addition, Windhoek builds resilience against the stressors of a variable climate through regional water cooperation.

In the words of Steven Schonberger, World Bank Practice Manager for Water in the Middle-East and North Africa region, this WSC initiative is timely: “Water scarce cities around the world, in both high income and developing countries, are undertaking a paradigm shift in how policy, technology and management systems are applied to improve financial and ecological sustainability and social equity. This initiative brings together practitioners to learn from each other and accelerate the adoption of this new paradigm in all of the water stressed regions of the world.”

Previous work has demonstrated that water resilience may be enhanced with unconventional thinking that ventures beyond traditionally narrow and siloed approaches. The intrinsically global reach of WSC enables the initiative and its partners to leverage imaginative water solutions to the greatest effect and combine efforts to adopt new water solutions based on comprehensive resilience strategies and cross-sectoral learning. Looking at water resource challenges through a creative, cooperative, and collaborative lens creates an opportunity to foster innovations on water allocation and management practices across the globe.