Improving sanitation for the poor

Developing adequate sanitation services
Installing adequate sanitation system
Building basic sanitation systems
Constructing basic sanitation facilities
Erecting appropriate sanitation facilities
Building additional sanitation installations
Providing basic sanitation services
The sanitary revolution undergone in the late 19th and 20th century by the world's richer countries has been patchily experienced elsewhere. In the developing world, although increasing efficiency in the use of household and municipal water is also necessary, expanding the quantitative supply of water for drinking and sanitation purposes is of utmost importance.
During the [International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade] much effort has been directed towards supplying sanitation facilities in urban areas. The coverage of urban areas (excluding China) in terms of sanitation services was 67% by 1990, as compared with 56% in 1980. This accompanies an estimated 49% increase in the urban population of developing countries (excluding China). On an average day, 330,000 people in developing countries gained access to safe water and 210,000 achieved better sanitation facilities -- more than double the rate of provision in the 1970s.

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 £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.

The plight of the poor in rural and urban settlements is desperate. There is a vital catalytic role that investment in affordable and sustainable water supply and sanitation improvements can play in poverty eradication environmental protection and economic development.
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal