CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Challenges to the supply of clean water and adequate sanitation in urban areas include: • Inadequate knowledge and contested data about available water resources, often resulting from weak systems for monitoring, quality control and absence of data sharing mechanisms;
• Degradation of vital ecosystems such as watersheds, wetlands, lakes and rivers;
• Inadequate mechanisms for inter- and intra-sectoral planning; • Weak legislative and institutional arrangements to support private sector participation;
Access to sanitation in urban Africa Million people
• Limited and unmonitored access to alternative sources of water such as groundwater and rainwater harvesting;
• Inadequate facilities for wastewater treatment, discharge and reuse; and
• Impact of climate change on urban water resources.
Despite the challenges, urbanisation provides an ideal framework for community engagement in finding long-term solutions to the provision of clean water and sanitation. In this regard urban areas represent an organised institutional structure to not only supply water and sanitation services, and to provide incentives and penalties in water use, but to also mainstream the environment through water sector management reforms such as integrated water resources management, water demand management and payments for ecosystem services. These reforms seek to reinforce the mutual and symbiotic relationship in the urbanisation – water – ecosystems nexus.
400 Urban population 300
With their large populations, urban areas have the opportunity to not only work with each other and tap into surrounding ecosystems through intra-basin water transfer schemes, but to also generate electricity from waste and wastewater, and to feed this into regional electric power inter-connections. This can facilitate the processes of regional integration in the same way as economic corridors.
Population with access to improved sanitation
100 OPTIONS FOR POLICY 0 1990 1995 2000 2005 2008 Source: WHO-UNICEF, A Snapshot of Drinking Water and Sanitation in Africa, 2010.
Figure 11: The number of people in Africa with access to improved sanitation, defined as “one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact” (WHO/UNICEF 2010), has increased over the last two decades. Still, because of the rapid urbanisation, the proportion of the urban population with access to improved sanitation is on the decrease.
The improvement of access to safe drinking water and sanitation for urban areas in the long-term requires a holistic approach, which among other things is conscious of the connection between urbanisation, water and ecosystems. This requires policy interventions, including some options that: • Prioritise water availability for basic needs of people and ecosystem services through policy and local level interventions that stimulate resource-conserving land use practices and improve water productivity for long term ecosystem sustainability;
• Recognise water as a human right, by ensuring that the right to water is guaranteed on the basis of non-discrimination, and that third parties, including the private sector, are prevented from interfering with this right;
• Acknowledge and support the role of small- and large-scale private sector activities in complementing government and