Water Development Sector

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Water Development Sector

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Functional responsibility for waterrelated activities was first articulated in the Bank's organizational structure on January 18, 1965 when the reorganization of the Bank's Technical Operations Department (TOD, September 1952 to January 18, 1965) into the new Projects Department (PRJ) occurred. The Projects Department was responsible for the identification, appraisal and supervision of projects, as well as policy formulation, research and advice in support of the operational activities of the area departments. The Department initially had five subordinate divisions: Agriculture Division (PRJAG); Education Division (PRJED); Transportation Division (PRJTP); Public Utilities Division (PRJPU); and Industry Division (PRJIN). Water supply staff was briefly located in the Industry Division but after the Division's transfer to the International Finance Corporation on April 19, 1965, a new and separate division was created in the Projects Department called the Water Supply Division (PRJWS). Soon after, on January 1, 1967, the Water Supply Division was merged into the Public Utilities Division of the Projects Department.

On November 1, 1968, the Projects Department was terminated and the subordinate divisions were upgraded to the department level. The Public Utilities Department (PBP) was one of the newly created departments and comprised the following divisions: Power Division I (PBPP1); Power Division II (PBPP2); Power Division III (PBPP3); Water Supply Division I (PBPW1); and the Telecommunications Division (PBPTE). In or around January 1970, another Water Supply Division II (PBPW2) was established in the Department.

The Public Utilities Department was responsible for:


  • providing advice, conducting research, and monitoring developments in sector issues;


  • carrying out sector studies with the objective of identifying projects and determining priorities within sectors;


  • preparing policy papers outlining the basic principles and approaches of the Bank relating to project and sector work;


  • preparing guidelines and standards;


  • appraising proposed projects and supervising projects in execution;


  • assisting in the identification and preparation of projects;


  • providing operational support in the negotiation and administration of loans and credits;


  • cooperating with other international agencies on programs of common interest.

As part of a larger reorganization of departments and staff on October 1, 1972, most of the Public Utilities Department staff was dispersed to regional project departments in newly established regional vice presidencies. This was undertaken in order to more effectively fuse country knowledge and sector skills. The remaining centralized staff made up the sector operating departments and performed advisory services for the regions. They were responsible for improving and maintaining the quality of Bank lending and related operations through: formulating policies, methodology and guidelines; providing operational support and advice; and managing related programs of recruitment assistance, staff development and education. Some departments, which had only a small number of staff, remained completely centralized and retained operational responsibilities; they were referred to as centralized operating projects departments (COPD). Both sector operating departments and centralized operating projects departments reported to the newly created Vice President, Central Projects (CPSVP).

On April 1, 1976, the Public Utilities Department was renamed Energy, Water and Telecommunications Department (EWT) to clarify its functional responsibilities. No structural changes accompanied the renaming of the department. However, on July 1, 1979, the Energy, Water and Telecommunications Department was terminated after the energy functions were upgraded to an independent Energy Department (EGY). The water supply and telecommunications functions were transferred to the Transportation Department (TRP) to form the new Transportation, Water and Telecommunications Department (TWT).

In 1978, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - World Bank Water and Sanitation Programme was initiated. Originally intended to examine and test costeffective technologies and models for providing safe water and sanitation to the world's poor, its focus expanded in the 1980s and 90s into the development of models and field projects. Funding for the Programme has been provided by the UNDP and the World Bank as well as more than a dozen bilateral aid agencies, host governments, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector. Since its inception, the Program has been managed by the World Bank on behalf of the Programme's contributors and has reported to the various Directors who managed the World Bank's waterrelated functions, beginning with the Energy, Water and Telecommunications Department in 1978. In 2000, the Program shortened its name to the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) and in 2001 it adopted a charter that established a Water and Sanitation Program Council (WSPC).

The telecommunications function of the Transportation, Water and Telecommunications Department was moved to the newly established Industry Department (IND) in March 1982, whereupon the department included only Transportation and Water. Subsequently, on July 1, 1983, the independent Urban Projects Department (URB) was merged with Water to form the Water Supply and Urban Development Department (WUD). Part of this reorganization involved the removal of the transportation function from the previous Transportation and Water Department and the recreation of an independent Transportation Department (TRP). The Water Supply and Urban Development Department operated as a sector department with responsibility for operations and development policy formulation, research, operational support and quality control for project and sector work.

On July 1, 1987, a Bankwide reorganization resulted in the termination of almost all organizational units. A new department, the Infrastructure and Urban Development Department (INU), incorporated the previous Water Supply and Urban Development Department and Transportation Department, and was placed in the Sector Policy and Research VicePresidency (PRE, then PRS). The PRE had no responsibility for managing operational activities but, rather, focused on operational support, the formulation of Bankwide sector policies and overseeing the ex post evaluation of Bankwide sector work and lending. The units within the PRE concentrated on policy creation and analysis, support for operations and sectoral research for emerging priority areas of the Bank.

The Infrastructure and Urban Development Department was responsible for:


  • developing, in consultation with the Regions, priorities for research and policy on key issues in water, sanitation and waste management;


  • conducting policy analyses, research, external liaison, operational support, and related quality enhancement activities on various economic, technical, environmental, institutional and management issues;


  • advising on water, sanitation and waste management issues in the design of country strategies, and in adjustment and sector operations;


  • providing operational support to strengthen links among research, policy and projects;


  • reviewing annual performance of Bank operations in the water, sanitation and waste management sector;


  • disseminating research results and policy studies for the sector and organizing and conducting appropriate training seminars on emerging issues in the sector; and


  • managing the joint UNDP/World Bank Water and Sanitation Program, including reporting responsibility to UNDP (and other donors).

On December 1, 1991, President Lewis Preston's first reorganization abolished all Senior VicePresidencies. The new Sector and Operations Policy Vice Presidency (OSP) was created and adopted functions previously supervised by Senior Vice Presidents, including the Infrastructure and Urban Development Department. On January 1, 1993, as part of a larger initiative to align the Bank's organization with the priority areas of its poverty reduction effort, the Sector and Operations Policy Vice Presidency was terminated. It was replaced by three new thematic vice presidencies: Human Resources Development and Operations Policy (HRO), Finance and Private Sector Development (FPD), and Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD).

The water function was placed in the newly created Transportation, Water and Urban Development Department (TWU). The Department was organized within the Environmentally Sustainable Development Vice Presidency alongside three other sector or thematic departments: the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department (AGR), Environment Department (ENV), and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Secretariat. At the time of the creation of the Transportation, Water and Urban Development Department, it had the following divisions: the Transportation Division (TWUTD), the Urban Development Division (TWURDS), the Water and Sanitation Division (TWUWS), and the UNDP/World Bank Water and Sanitation Program (TWUWU).

Each Sector Department was responsible for the following:


  • prepare policies, guidelines, standards, handbooks and analytical tools relevant to the sector;


  • identify, codify and disseminate best practices and lessons of experience, and evaluate weaknesses;


  • provide advice to the Regions as needed;


  • monitor and track work in the sectors assigned in order to identify generic issues and identify, evaluate and influence trends and patterns;


  • perform surveys of experience and practice within the Bank and elsewhere, and develop innovative approaches;


  • participate in Bankwide efforts to assess skill requirements, and to upgrade skills through recruitment, training, orientation, seminars, newsletters, etc.;


  • represent the Bank to external communities of interest;


  • maintain an awareness of relevant external practices and viewpoints.

Four years later, in 1997, the thematic VicePresidencies were reorganized to strike a better balance between country focus and sectoral excellence. To facilitate sharing of expertise and knowledge, the Bank established networks that linked Bankwide communities of staff working in the same field across organizational boundaries and with external partners. The networks formed a virtual overlay on the existing Bank organization, and were intended to link staff working in the same sectors throughout the Bank, whether the staff was located in the Regions, in the Central VicePresidencies' Sector Departments, or other VicePresidencies.

Each of the three thematic Central VicePresidencies was transformed into the central units, or anchors, of each network and consisted of the existing sector departments. On a Bankwide basis, sector specialists were grouped into regional sector units or into central sector departments which worked with country departments in a matrix relationship. Staff from the central sector departments could become part of the regional operational teams when their sectoral expertise was required.

The work programs of Network staff focused on:


  • global knowledge - putting the best development knowledge in the hands of Bank task teams; ensuring that the knowledge base was accessible to external clients; and contributing to the growth of the knowledge base;


  • enhanced skills - developing and providing content to training courses; establishing professional and technical standards for professional development;


  • shared strategies - assisting regional and central units to develop a common sector agenda, and ensuring that skills are effectively deployed across the entire network. Network leadership assumed responsibility for global programs, sector strategy development and evaluation, strategic partnerships, and learning and dissemination;


  • best teams and best practices - improving the Bank's flexibility and mobility by building stronger task teams and delivering higher quality products;


  • institutional initiatives - providing substantial support for new Bankwide initiatives, such as Social Development, Rural Development, Financial Sector, Anticorruption, Human Resources,and Knowledge Partnerships.

The result of the 1997 restructuring was four networks: the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network (ESSD); the Finance, Private Sector Development, and Infrastructure Network (FPD); the Human Development Network (HDN); and the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PRM). The Transportation, Water and Urban Development Department (TWU) retained its name and component parts and was situated within the Finance, Private Sector Development, and Infrastructure Network (FPSI).

In 1999, the Finance, Private Sector Development, and Infrastructure Network became the Private Sector Development and Infrastructure (PSI) Network. The Transportation, Water and Urban Development Department remained in the newly named network but on July 1, 2001, reorganization combined the water and energy functions to form the Energy and Water Department (EWD). This Department remained intact through the network's renaming and reorganization of 2003 when it became the Infrastructure Network (INF). However, in 2006 or 2007, the energy and water functions were combined with transport to form the Energy, Transport and Water Department (EWT) and this Department was moved to the Sustainable Development Network (SDN).

On January 1, 2007, water and energy functions were combined with the transport functions to form the Energy, Transport and Water Department (EWT) and this Department was moved to the Sustainable Development Network (SDN). Then, on September 17, 2010, restructuring placed the water function within the Transport, Water, and Information and Communications Technologies Department. The Department remained in the Sustainable Development Network.

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