New research has found that in 15 major cities in the south of the world, nearly half of all households lack access to tap water, affecting more than 50 million people. Access is lowest in cities in sub-Saharan Africa, with only 22% of households receiving water pipes.
The survey also found that of those households that had access to most received occasional services. In the city of Karachi, Pakistan, the city's population of 15 million people received an average water pipe of just three days a week, less than three hours.
These new findings are complemented by data from the Aqueduct Toolkit of the World Resources Institute (WRI), which recently revealed that by 2030, 45 cities with a population of over 3 million could experience major water stress. The research is described in detail in Inaccessible and inaccessible: Reconsidering access to urban water in the global south The report shows that even in some places where water sources are available, water does not reach many residents. Some cities, such as Dar es Salaam, have a relatively abundant supply, but daily access to clean, reliable and affordable water remains a problem for many residents.
"Decades of increasing the role of the private sector in water supply have not adequately improved access, especially for those who are not sufficiently supplied," said Diana Mitlin, lead author, Professor of Global Urban Planning at the Institute for Global Development at the University of Manchester. "Water is a human right and a social good and cities must prioritize it as such."
An analysis in the report found that alternatives to supply pipes, such as purchases from private suppliers that bring water from a truck, can cost up to 25% of a household's monthly income and are 52 times more expensive than public tap water.
The global indicators used for the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals have greatly underestimated this urban water crisis because they do not take into account accessibility, interruption or water quality. In 2015, UNICEF and the World Health Organization reported that more than 90% of the world's population used improved sources of drinking water. But "enhanced" encompasses such a wide range of sources, such as public taps, wells or wells, that it does not reflect reality for individuals and families in today's fast-growing cities.
The question of whether water is accessible is not measured and while efforts are being made to increase water levels, public authorities have paid little attention to accessibility issues.
"Cities need to rethink how they look at equal access to water," said Victoria A. Beard, co-author, associate professor at the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University. "In many developing countries where urban residents do not have access to safe, reliable and affordable water on a daily basis, these are the same countries that have made huge strides in ensuring universal access to basic education. Similar levels of political commitment are required for equitable access to water. high technology. We know what to do. "
The World Health Organization reports that investing in universal drinking water coverage in urban areas would cost $ 141 billion over five years. But overall global economic losses from unsafe water and sewer systems are estimated at least 10 times higher, at $ 260 billion annually over the same period.
The researchers identified four specific actions that can improve access to water in urban areas, the report details. "Without change, the number of people receiving intermittent or poor-quality water will increase in the coming years, due to rapid urbanization, increased scarcity of water resulting from climate change and generally not investing in water infrastructure," said Ani Dasgupta, WRI Ross Center Global Director sustainable cities. "It will have huge costs for people and the economy. Cities need to take action to guarantee access to safe and reliable water for all city dwellers in the future."
Inaccessible and inaccessible: rethinking access to urban water in the global south
by Victoria A. Beard, Jillian Du, Diana Mitlin and David Satterthwaite – August 2019