What does it mean to give one person access to clean water or safe sanitation? For them and their family, it means the world: dignity, health, more time to work, study, or care for others.
In a new report, Running Dry, factors are identified as to what holds back action in providing clean, affordable water and safe, dignified sanitation reaching all citizens living in urban areas.
– Utilities are often seen as the reason why water access is not universal, because they have failed to extend their networks to keep pace with the expanding urban areas which they serve. But utilities can be supported to reach the poorest.
– Residents without piped water close to their houses almost certainly have to buy it at a much higher price on the black market. Proper connections, from the main system, not only save under-served residents money, but ensure that the utilities providing the water can be financially viable. – Community ownership is traditionally seen as the goal in development – but in urban water and sanitation, it can be problematic. To manage effective distribution of water across an urban area, a single institution must have oversight and accountability for managing the entire system.
– In cramped urban settlements where the poorest and most marginalized live, there simply isn’t the space – nor money – for each household to have their own toilet. High quality shared sanitation can be a useful stepping stone to give residents immediate benefits.
– If sanitation was just a construction issue, the world would likely have tackled it by now. But in urban areas, just as important as building toilets is figuring out what to do with the human waste. Much more needs to be done to improve the business of removing sanitation waste from the environment.
[Excerpts of article by Neil Jeffery – Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor]