Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Engaging the World Bank

The World Bank, with annual water and sanitation investments of $10.7 billion, is one of the biggest development donors in the world and as a result its policies have an significant impact in the countries where our members work.


Although information on World Bank policies and operations is available, it can be difficult to replace and hard for civil society to assess their relevance. As a result, the World Bank appears to be an opaque institution and few civil society organisations in the sector have a great deal of experience working effectively in partnership with the World Bank.

Improving World Bank engagement with civil society

FAN and the World Bank worked together to improve civil society dialogues on water and sanitation. For FAN, this was an opportunity to:

  • try and influence the bank’s policies and working practices
  • develop our members’ understanding of how civil society can engage with the World Bank

As a result of the ongoing discussion process with the World Bank, two key research document have been developed: a World Bank Handbook (created by FAN) and a review of bank experience in engaging with civil society at country level water sector discussions (created by the Bank). 

The World Bank and the water and sanitation sector

This publication serves as a starting point for increasing the effectiveness of civil society organizations’ engagement with the World Bank. Beyond serving as a handy desk reference, the guide will start a range of discussions throughout the network on topics to deepen our engagement as a network.


Download the The World Bank and the water and sanitation sector: English (PDF 1.7Mb), French (350Kb), Spanish (350Kb)

World Bank and civil society review

A review of Bank experience in engaging with water sector civil society organisations at country level will help civil society organizations learn from the successful models employed in the past.

Download World Bank- Civil Society Engagement - Review of Fiscal Years 2005 and 2006 
(PDF 3.5 MB)


Other related reading 


A roadmap for integrating human rights into the World Bank Group (PDF 3.6Mb)
World Resources Institute calls for the World Bank Group to integrate human rights standards into its operations.