Today, some 785 million people lack access to clean water and 2 billion live without modern sanitation according to water.org. Contaminated water and inadequate sanitation cause millions of premature deaths each year, including 297,000 deaths among children under the age of five.

Expanding access to clean water and basic sanitation services is fundamental to reducing poverty. Under-investment in water infrastructure can have serious health and social implications, and impede economic development. Our goal is to ensure reliable services for those who need them—particularly the poor—in a sustainable and affordable way.

While most of the World Bank Group’s activities in the water sector involve supporting publicly run utilities—through grants, loans, and technical assistance—there are situations where carefully managed public-private partnerships (PPPs) or private tenders can get clean water to more people more quickly and efficiently than state operators.

IFC helps enable partnerships between governments and private operators to bring the needed capital, expertise, and technology to improve water access and services. Working alongside government, civil society, and other stakeholders, the private sector can provide complementary knowledge, experience, and insight to address critical issues of water resource management.

Properly structured PPPs can play an important role in addressing the global water issues of today, and IFC’s track record in structuring PPPs is strong. Long-term evaluations of our projects prove that concessions can have a positive impact on levels of access and quality of services for the population.

Learn more about IFC's work in water

IFC's approach to water PPPs