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WSP – Barriers and solutions to water/santation services to urban poor

Guidance Notes on Services for the Urban Poor: A Practical Guide for Improving Water Supply and Sanitation Services, August 2009. (pdf, 1.8MB)

Water and Sanitation Program

WASHINGTON, August 18, 2009—Giving poor people a say in the water and sanitation services they receive, and allowing alternative documentation to prove residence are some of the simple solutions that can bring sustainable water and sanitation services to the hundreds of millions currently living without, according to a new report today released by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).

According to UNICEF and WHO, 900 million do not drink safe water and 2.5 billion people live without access to improved sanitation, leading to millions of deaths every year, mostly of children under five.

The report, Guidance Notes on Services for the Urban Poor: A practical guide for improving water and sanitation services, identifies barriers to service delivery for poor people living in urban areas in Africa, East and South Asia, and Latin America and recommends practical solutions to overcome them.

“Hundreds of millions of people are living in these conditions, but the underlying reasons preventing service delivery can vary depending on whether a person lives in the city or in the countryside,” said WSP Program Manager Jae So. “To identify appropriate solutions, we must identify these contexts, examine the barriers, and formulate logical and practical steps that can be implemented to overcome them.”

Citing an example from the report, Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist Dennis Mwanza said “Project designers and service providers often assume they know what type of services the poor want and are willing to pay for. Their assumptions are not always correct and often result in costly and unsustainable, supply-driven public programs. Giving the poor the opportunity to participate in planning and design can mean the difference between success and failure.”

Among other solutions, the study added that simplified, client-friendly procedures for billing, collection, and connection help the poor to gain and retain access to water and sanitation services.

The report includes a compilation of 19 case studies from 12 countries as well as consultations with urban poor communities to analyze similar barriers and propose solutions.

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