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.