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UN-Water Country Briefs Project

In brief

  • A pilot project to develop a comprehensive data-rich water national snapshot
  • An easy reference of aggregated national information for decision-makers
  • Date of publication: June 2013

The UN-Water Country Briefs have been produced for 13 target countries and are accessible by clicking on the map or on the country names below.

See/download UN-Water Country Briefs in the publications sections

Viet NamBangladeshPhilippinesOmanZambiaUnited Republic of TanzaniaKyrgyzstan Ghanathe GambiaMongoliaMexicoChileGuyana


The overall objective of the UN-Water Country Briefs project is to better visualize the critical importance of investments in water for human and economic development. The intention is to foster increased political momentum for stronger interventions on water-related issues by policy makers, dealing with peace and security, infrastructure investments, agricultural, health, education and environmental issues, as well as macro- and micro-economic perspectives. An ultimate goal is to mobilize increased financial and institutional investments directed to water–related interventions, to serve as a tool for advocacy on water issues in more general terms and as decision support tools in policy processes. The primary target groups are national governments, but civil society organizations and private sector actors, and the media are also examples of key stakeholders.

This initial project has generated briefs for 13 countries. As the main purpose of this project is to define the method and develop the template and framework and apply it to a limited number of countries, considerable time and resources have been dedicated to develop such a template and methodology for these country briefs. The intention for producing this framework is that it can then be easily adapted and applied to a larger number of countries.

The UN-Water Country Briefs are intended to send a powerful message about the urgent challenges on water issues that are stifling human and national development, and to prompt donors, governments and other key actors to raise these issues on the political agenda and increase investments. They frame water issues within the larger development equation within a country as a way to stimulate further political attention and investments in water.

This two-year project(2011-2013) was implemented by FAO-AQUASTAT on behalf of UN-Water with financial support from the United States Department of State (USDS).


The variables and indicator definitions, the data sources and data issues, and the method adopted throughout the UN-Water Water Country Briefs (WCB) can be downloaded here.

The UN-Water Country Briefs were developed through a diverse set of activities, schematically represented below:



Impact of investment in water and the general state of water resources management on development outcomes


Investment data collected through national consultants, according to the following eight categories, which have been established by the OECD Creditor Reporting System: Water resources policy and administrative management, water resources protection, water supply and sanitation in large systems, basic drinking water supply and basic sanitation, river development, hydroelectric power plants, agricultural water resources, disaster prevention and preparedness/ flood protection and control


  • Irrigated agriculture
  • Environment and ecosystem health
  • Drinking water supplyand sanitation
  • Water intensity in industry
  • Water-related disasters
  • Energy for water, water for energy
  • Tracking water governance


  • How much does water matter (results from relevant cost-benefit analysis studies if available)?
  • Where do the main water and development challenges lie (rapid assessment)?
  • How does water constrain the country’s development, by economic sector?
  • How sectors are dependent on water





The project’s consultations continuously confirmed that readily available national quantitative datasets on water are largely lacking for national level assessments and analysis. While there is information collected through various questionnaires and surveys in various instances, it is often not quantitative water-related information. Hence, data is insufficient to yield information about the water situation in a country from a quantitative point of view and often lacks detail to answer questions on the competition between sectors, etc.

To help address this data crisis, the UN-Water Country Briefs are evolved followingthe AQUASTAT model: collection of essentially quantitative data with the aim of contributing a comprehensive (ie: across economic sectors and key development issues) national evidence-base, both in terms of new data collected (on investments) and updated data (on water-related indicators).

Existing data was collated from existing international datasets, such as FAO-AQUASTAT, JMP (WHO-UNICEF), the World Bank, UNDP, UNEP-GEMS/Water, UNISDR, World Energy Council, among others. National consultants have been hired specifically for the project, tasked with collecting the data, guided by a specially-designed questionnaire for data collection. Data sources stem essentially from national/official databanks, scientific studies and in some cases expert opinions and assessments.

The project can demonstrate the crisis in primary data collection and availability in the field of water. Data findings from the UN-Water Country Briefs can contribute to strengthen national and international datasets. Moreover, the project helps demonstrate the value of valid and relevant data for national-level analysis, and the economic and development impact of making water-related investments.

Last update:07 Oct 2014