Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

The serious problem of urban sanitation

I live in a city called Hyderabad. It used to be a city of lakes. Just thirty years ago, there were lots of lakes and no drinking water problem. Now, with the rural-urban migration and commercialization in the city, the lakes have eroded and their sources have become polluted. There seem to be more skyscrapers than water. 

The lack of sanitation has not yet been seriously perceived as a problem but the city’s drainage system was planned 130 years ago for far fewer people. Now there’s a population of 1 crore (10 million) and the drainage system has not been modernized to suit. If we compare sanitation and drinking water, a lack of drinking water is immediately felt but a lack of sanitation is mostly noticed over time, which means it takes longer for it to be acknowledged as a problem. 

In rural areas, there are still open spaces. The area I work in is dry agricultural land so there is not much of a problem of space yet. But urban sanitation is a serious problem, not only in Hyderabad but in any metropolitan city or big town in India. None of the states are really equipped to deal with the problem of solid waste management and garbage disposal. Even for the basic need of going to the toilet there are no well-maintained public facilities available if any at all. 
Sadly, when I attended FANSA’s  annual meeting in Kathmandu, I learnt that more or less all the

South Asian countries suffer the same problems. I expected Nepal to be in a much better situation because we dream of Nepal as a country of rivers and cozy mountain cities. It is really heartbreaking to know that it is not. And the situation more or less everywhere is the same. 

Some states may have policies and budgets in place but there is no will to implement them. Or even when they have budget, the situation on the ground does not improve. The public should be able to make the governments make good on their promises and implement their policies. 

Work has to be done at two levels. On the one hand, we need to raise awareness of the importance of sanitation among people and about their rights to live a dignified life. On the other hand, we need government to have not only policies but budget to pay for them too. 

 

Urban Water and Sanitation: Who cares about Poor?

The city development planning and judicious resource allocation in most of the cities in South Asian countries is a big challenge. Among the basic amenities, water and sanitation remained the core concern that lead to health problems, livelihood losses and an impediment to economic growth. Given the population growth and rapid migration from rural to urban areas, the cities are swelling at an unprecedented rate, while resources are limited in terms of land, water, forest and basic amenities.

The cities in South Asia have grown rapidly in terms of their population sizes, but not proportionately in terms of quality of urban services and facilities. When we take example of India; in term of services, no Indian city provides water 24/7, only half the population has access to safe drinking water, and less than a third has access to sanitation.

The land prices have gone up; the poor are confronted with affordability of shelter, which ultimately forces them to live in unauthorized localities, which we generally call ‘slums’ or ‘unauthorized’ colonies. They in one way are synonymous to ‘No-man’s Land’, and survive on the mercy of local authorities (e.g. municipality) to recognize them (in their city planning process) or throw them out overnight, for a new project or township. These colonies are extremely unhygienic, filth ridden and are ones nightmare to live. There, you will not find basic services and civic amenities, and in case someone gets that, is a different story altogether. Full Article>>

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