Progress achieved with regard to sanitation varies significantly from region to region, albeit for different reasons. In Africa, because of the rapid growth in urban population - from 158.5 million in 1985 to a projected 332 million by the year 2000 - progress in providing water and sanitation services has been particularly slow, with the actual provision of service falling. On the basis of current trends, the number of urban dwellers without adequate sanitation may rise from 41 million in 1980 to as many as 106 million by 2000; 350 million people might be without adequate sanitation facilities by 2000.
In the Asia and Pacific region (excluding China), in spite of the fact that urban sanitation coverage has risen at a faster pace than population, the number of urban dwellers without coverage could be as many as 450 million by the year 2000. Progress in the provision of rural sanitation, however, has been slow. By the year 2000 as many as 1,200 million people out of a population of some 1,400 million might be without adequate sanitation facilities. In Western Asia, urban dwellers are expected to achieve full sanitation coverage by 1990. With regard to rural areas no real progress seems to have taken place in the region, and the number of rural dwellers without adequate services may actually have increased.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, efforts at improving water supply and sanitation coverage started earlier than in the other developing regions, with emphasis on urban coverage. By 1980, an estimated 74% had been provided with sanitation facilities. In sharp contrast, coverage of rural areas remained low at 11%. In spite of the progress made in the 1980s, large pockets of the urban poor in the region remain without adequate water and sanitation services. By the year 2000, in view of the rapidly expanding urban populations, the number of urban dwellers without adequate sanitation might remain unchanged at some 60 million. With regard to the rural population, at the current rate of progress, coverage will have reached 31%.
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council is an innovative mechanism which derives its mandate from a United Nations' resolution in 1991, though it is not a UN body. Neutral and devoid of bureaucracy, Council meetings are open to sector professionals from national agencies in developing countries, multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, non-governmental organizations and appropriate international research institutions. The Council meets at two-year intervals to provide a forum for the exchange of experiences and views and to agree on common approaches for advancing progress in water supply and sanitation. Between these Global Forums, specialist working groups and task forces develop proposals for improving the sector's performance at national and international levels in key issue areas, including water pollution control, operation and maintenance, gender issues and country-level collaboration. Typical among these groups is a [Network on Services for the Urban Poor], which is currently exchanging expertise, knowledge and experiences among more than 1,000 water supply and sanitation specialists from all parts of the world.
WaterAid was created in 1981 by the British water industry to tackle one of the root causes of poverty through the provision of safe water and effective sanitation. Its approach is quite unique -- projects are implemented by local organizations, which may be NGOs, including churches and women's groups, or sometimes they are departments of central or local government. All projects require major and active participation on a self-help basis by those who will benefit from them. WaterAid provides on-site professional support, supervises funding and, where necessary, gives technical or management advice. For example, between 1984 and 1995, WaterAid spent Â£3 million developing a water and sanitation programme in Ghana, the money invested in simple and practical water systems built and maintained by local organizations and benefiting tens of thousands of people. That investment attracted a $US 28 million loan from the World Bank to continue expansion of the project to other areas of Ghana.