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IPW: South Africa develops sanitation plans, and World Bank puts focus on nature-based solutions

30 May 2023

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, South Africa’s plans for clean water, and the World Bank pushes for climate resilience.

IPW: South Africa develops sanitation plans, and World Bank puts focus on nature-based solutions
Nature-based solutions, like restored wetlands, offer integrative strategies to reduce climate risks. Image credit: Shutterstock

South Africa steps up to improve delivery of sustainable sanitation

South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has begun establishing a task team responsible for delivering clean drinking water and treating sewage.

The Provincial Sanitation Task Team in Western Cape will accelerate these efforts, with a focus on equity and sustainability.

The main responsibility of the task team is to provide strategic leadership and technical advice to the sanitation sector, and promote integrated planning, monitoring, and reporting.

The Task Team’s focus is to ensure the has public adequate access to drinking water and vital facilities to improve their quality of life.

The DWS is also leading the development of South Africa’s National Sanitation Integrated Plan, a 10-year roadmap designed to deliver universal access to sanitation.

The DWS is focusing on improved coordination and planning between responsible sector stakeholders to implement a successful delivery of the plan.

The ICE’s view

Over 2 billion people – one third of the world’s population – still lack access to decent sanitation, and 900 million have no access at all.

Access to water and sanitation for all is the sixth goal of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ongoing global water crisis is continually reviewed within the Water Action Decade (2018-2028) launched by the UN General Assembly.

South Africa is a welcome example of implementing the SDGs into decision-making through the development of the National Sanitation Integrated Plan.

Following on from the most recent budget in South Africa, an estimated R903 billion has been allocated for infrastructure over the coming three years, with a clear focus on economic and network infrastructure.

Given that South Africa is one of the world’s most water-scarce nations, this funding is particularly necessary. Detailed planning to ensure equal access to sanitation is provided is an important step in the right direction.

The World Bank focuses on the need for nature-based solutions to increase climate resilience

The World Bank has published a report on ‘Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Resilience: A Guideline for Project Developers’.

Nature-based solutions (NBS) offer integrative strategies to reduce climate risks, while providing a range of other benefits such as climate regulation, recreation, health, tourism, food and drinking water.

This report provides comprehensive guidance and case study examples to support how benefits are valued and costs of nature-based solutions for climate resilience at project level.

Four guiding principles are proposed for all assessments relating to nature-based solutions:

  1. Value risk reduction alongside other benefits: nature-based solutions have multiple benefits including biodiversity, climate regulation, and ecosystem services supporting the economies of local communities.
  2. Engage stakeholders to scope benefits of NBS for local people: robust stakeholder engagement is necessary to identify the relevant benefits of NBS projects to ensure community buy-in.
  3. Address uncertainty: uncertainties driven by both climate and socioeconomic conditions play an important role in assessing the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of NBS.
  4. NBS benefits and cost assessment should be an integral part of investment projects: it will be key to assess the economic viability of investments and to evaluate the positive economic impact of NBS.

The ICE’s view

Implementing nature-based solutions is key to developing environmentally integrated and resilient infrastructure.

This is highlighted within the ICE’s recent paper on climate resilience.

In the paper, Dhaka North in Bangladesh is cited as an example of a city seeking to implement nature-based solutions to tackle the impacts of climate change and improve its future resilience.

Investing in climate resilience is essential to mitigate against the existential threat of climate change.

Prioritising resilience and adaptation measures will enable countries to develop stronger and more innovative infrastructure systems.

The ICE’s Enabling Better Infrastructure programme (EBI) programme focuses on sharing international best practice to deliver reliable and sustainable national infrastructure.

This involves incorporating learnings across the entire infrastructure lifecycle into policy and decision-making frameworks to help nations seeking to develop climate-resilient infrastructure.

In case you missed it

  • The ICE analyses how Tunisia is using public-private partnerships to create new opportunities.
  • Journeys on Britain’s public transport network are recovering after Covid-19 – what’s next for UK public transport funding?
  • Respond to our EBI consultation on what governments need to know to plan infrastructure better.

Check back in a fortnight for the next edition of the ICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch.

You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

  • Laura Cunliffe-Hall, interim lead policy manager at ICE