A Tale of Clean Cities: How to Solve the Urban Sanitation Challenge
Over half of the world’s population now live in urban areas, and that figure is set to continue rapidly rising. By 2050, it’s estimated that more than two thirds of people will be living in cities. Most of these additional people will live in unplanned settlements or slums without adequate basic services, such as access to clean water and toilets.
A staggering 800 million people in urban areas don’t have access to safe and private toilets; 100 million of whom have to practice open defecation. This poses extreme health risks, including frequent cholera outbreaks. Providing urban sanitation services to the whole city, including those who are very poor and often have no ownership of their land and few if any legal rights, is a complex challenge, but a vital one.
Urban insights from India, Ghana and the Philippines
Here are three success stories that provide useful lessons in how governments, donors and development agencies can work together to tackle the urban sanitation challenge and ensure universal access to water and sanitation.
In Visakhapatnam, India, the desire to transform the once small fishing village into the financial capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh inspired political buy-in, driving investments in sewers and the treatment and reuse of wastewater. Sanitation efforts recently received a significant boost from the launch of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, which is helping extend coverage to poor households and focused attention on fecal sludge management. In a country where 2 in 5 urban dwellers lack access to improved sanitation, Visakhapatnam is a shining example and has been declared the third cleanest city in the country.