The number of slum dwellers in developing countries is increasing and will continue to rise in the near future.
An estimated 828 million people live in slum conditions, compared to 657 million in 1990. Africa’s urban population is expected to triple to 1.23 billion between 2010 and 2050. Urban areas will account for 83.5% of Africa’s population growth during this period.
Growing evidence indicates that the WASH sector will be affected by climate change through the impacts of floods, droughts or extreme rainfall events, challenging daily operations and long-term planning.
This creates a need for service providers to increase the robustness of their systems, including adapting asset management approaches to address impacts of reduced or increased water capacity within networks, managing non-revenue water to increase water capacity, and constructing water and sanitation infrastructure to ensure limited environmental impact. Of the world’s 27 megacities, 18 are thought to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as increased sea levels and stronger winds displacing population in these areas.
Income and capital poverty
Research into improving service delivery to the urban poor found that poor households find it difficult to pay upfront connection fees and monthly bills.
43% of Africa’s urban population live below the poverty line, increasing to over 50% in several sub-Saharan countries. The richest 20% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa are almost five times more likely to use an improved sanitation facility than the poorest 20%.
There is commonly a lack of political will among politicians to prioritise water and sanitation, and with insufficient political will, urban governance deficiencies continue to affect most African cities.
Politics in African and South Asian countries is often linked to the pervasive use of patronage in retaining control of the state. This occasions politically motivated interference in public and parastatal WASH entities in areas such as senior management appointments, tariff setting and regulation, especially around the time of elections.