Targeting the Urban Poor and Improving Services in Small Towns
Objective: WSP will support national and subnational governments and public and private service providers by developing pro-poor and poor-inclusive policies, guidelines, and models for improved water supply and sanitation services in dense urban and peri-urban areas and small towns. WSP has demonstrated substantial progress at the country level, but developing and sharing knowledge to address urban challenges with global impact remains a challenge.
Context: Fifty-one percent, or 3.3 billion, of the world‘s people live in cities or towns. By 2030, this number is expected to grow to almost five billion, severely increasing demand for services. Although urban drinking water coverage has remained at over 90 percent for the past 15 years, UN estimates show that approximately 10 percent of all countries have experienced a 2 percent decline or more in urban water supply since 1990.
Urban inequity is severe—in some African countries, disparities between the richest and poorest quintiles stand at over 80 percent for access to sanitation and 70 percent for access to water supply. An important consequence of this inequity is that the poor are heavily concentrated in unplanned peri-urban settlements where tenure issues may deprive them of the right to basic networked services. Even where that is not the case, utilities may regard them as inferior customers providing little potential for profit. The majority of these communities rely on on-site sanitation, which does not involve public infrastructure, and is often treated as a purely household matter. Therefore, important public health issues such as fecal sludge management are left entirely to the informal sector, with disastrously unhygienic consequences. The numerous tenants of rented accommodation generally have to rely on communal services, where cost recovery can be a major issue, leading to poor service quality.
The Tough Issues of Urban Sanitation
There are two very notable recent cases where WSP analyses, access to international knowledge and process support have assisted national governments to tackle the muchneglected issues of urban sanitation. India and Indonesia provide proof of how incentives for action on sanitation can facilitate poor-inclusive approaches to planning and resource allocation, and demonstrate the value of an evidence-based policy.
WSP support for India‘s National Urban Sanitation Policy (NUSP) has been ongoing since 2008, and WSP is currently assisting the Government of India to build a database on the state of sanitation in cities, as it tests out new approaches to planning and intervention development. The introduction of indicators to define and monitor progress toward fully sanitized city status is a work-in-progress, but novel and valuable in encouraging municipalities to focus on service delivery and outcomes rather than infrastructure, with considerable emphasis on improved city planning for strategic outcomes rather than mere administrative compliance.
The WSP-supported Indonesia Sanitation Sector Development Program (ISSDP)— which became the basis of the Government of Indonesia‘s Sanitation Development Acceleration Program in 2010—used evidence-based knowledge and technical support to foster government commitment to improving urban sanitation, increasing national and local investment, and city-level sanitation planning. As a result of decentralization, local government has the mandate to deliver sanitation services so central government cannot force municipalities to improve sanitation. Instead, central government created incentives and motivation, such as linking the adoption of city sanitation plans to access to capital funds and using peer pressure and friendly competition to motivate city leaders and officials, to address poor sanitary conditions in their towns.