Providing basic facilities, including water and sanitation, but also transport and housing, in increasingly condensed urban areas will be one of the major challenges facing the world in the coming years
Up To 50% of Urban Residents in Sub-Saharan African Do Not Have Access to Clean Water and 60% Lack Adequate Sanitation
|Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme speaking at 2011 World Water Week Opening Plenary. Photograph by Thomas Henrikson/SIWI.|
As World Water Week gets underway in Stockholm, 22 August 2011, the focus is on the challenges that come with providing water in an urbanizing world, where the proportion of people living in cities is already half and continues to grow. Dr Joan Clos, UN-HABITAT, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, Executive Director, said “Providing basic facilities, including water and sanitation, but also transport and housing, in increasingly condensed urban areas will be one of the major challenges facing the world in the coming years. Planning is the key to a sustainable urban future and service provision must be part of a wider national urban planning policy.”
“The highest priority for UN-HABITAT’s Water and Sanitation programme is improving access to safe water and helping provide adequate sanitation to millions of low-income urban dwellers and measuring that impact. World leaders meeting at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 committed themselves to attaining the Millennium Development Goal 7, target 10 which aims to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015.”
Countries that are urbanizing quickly are already struggling to keep up with the demands of their residents many of whom already live in overcrowded areas. In some regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, as many as half of the urban population has no access to clean water and up to 60% do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. Parts of Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean tell a similar story.
In addition, in the coming decades, more and more urban residents will feel the impact of climate change. According to UN-HABITAT’s “Cities and Climate Change: the Global Report on Human Settlements,” it is estimated that by 2050, there could be as many as 200 million environmental refugees worldwide, many of whom will be forced from their homes by rising sea levels and increased frequency of flooding or drought.
“Providing water for our urban citizens is of course going to be hard but it also provides a distinct opportunity,” continues Clos. “By laying down realistic foundations now for well-planned efficient cities, we can ensure not only that more people have access to clean water and sanitation, but that cities are places where the benefits of climate change mitigation truly come to the fore and contribute to our sustainable urban future.”
This news is from UN-HABITAT released at World Water Week, 21 August 2011, Stockholm, Sweden
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