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home » Habitat Debate » default.asp       Habitat Debate, September 2003 Vol. 9 No. 3          Print this page

Executive Director's Message
Global Overview
Special Messages
Case Studies
Best Practices
Reader's Forum
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The state of the young in any city is the litmus test for its level of sustainability and vibrancy. At the19th session of UNHABITAT's Governing Council in May this year, Governments formally asked UN-HABITAT to strengthen and advance our work in the engagement of youth in urban governance, address the problem of youth at risk, and to develop actions with special focus on capacitybuilding and poverty alleviation.


Water and sanitation in cities - translating global goals into local action
By Kalyan Ray

Cholera is endemic in East Africa. Yet every couple of years when it rains heavily, storm water washes accumulated human waste, mainly from informal settlements lacking minimum sanitation facilities, into open boreholes and other water sources used by the poor for drinking water. The result is a cholera epidemic.


Pushing for progress on the Millennium Development Goals
By Sir Richard Jolly

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water and sanitation are really quite modest. In the 1980s, the world set the goal of water and sanitation for all by 1990. A few years before that, in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1977, access to safe water had been recognized as a universal human right - by definition a right of all people in all countries.


The Commission on Sustainable Development - focusing on urban slums
By Børge Brende
An important task for me as Chairman of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) is to increase the global focus on problems facing urban slums world-wide, and to contribute to improving the conditions faced by slum dwellers on a daily basis.


A message from the ADB
Two thirds of the world's poor are found in Asia and the Pacific, and one in three Asians lives on less than one dollar a day. Of the world's population without access to clean water, almost two-thirds live in Asia and an even greater number lack adequate sanitation.


The role of the Organization of American States
By Bernhard Griesinger and Marilena Oliveira Griesinger

The Organization of American States (OAS), governed by the 34 countries of the Americas, is committed to the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the number of people without access to clean water and adequate sanitation by 2015. The OAS also shares the emerging consensus that this challenge will have to be largely met in our cities, where most people live, consume water and generate waste.


A water pollution crisis in the Americas
By Luís Eduardo Galvão

Cities in the world, especially ones located in less developed regions, such as Latin America and the Caribbean, face serious challenges in the management of water resources. Given the crucial need to supply water to the population, treatment of sewage is unavoidable.


Teaching water conservation in African schools
By Pireh Otieno

As part of its Water for African Cities programme UN-HABITAT has embarked on a water education campaign to teach children and local communities about the importance of conservation in an effort to cut back waste.


The poor pay more for their water
By Arthur C. McIntosh

Winnie Flores lives on the Mangahan Floodway in Metro Manila. She is one of about 3 million people who, almost five years after the privatisation of Manila water supply, still have no access to piped water. They pay almost as much for water as for rent. Winnie could greatly improve the quality of her accommodation and her dignity in the neighbourhood if she could get connected to piped water. She sighs, "It's coming next year they say."


Toilets for all
By Bindeshwar Pathak

Adequate supplies of safe water and sanitation are essential for a healthy and productive life. Water that is not safe for human consumption can spread disease. Inadequate sanitation causes pollution which adversely affects agricultural productivity. Industrial activity is hit due to illness-related absenteeism.


A complex web of partnerships
This article is excerpted from UN-HABITAT's new report, Water and Sanitation in the World's Cities: Local Action for Global Goals
Urban water and sanitation utilities are virtually never sold off to private enterprises to use as they see fit. But there are several models of private sector participation and many variations, depending on the legal and regulatory frameworks, the nature of the company and the type of contract. In all of these models, regardless of the level of private sector involvement, the public sector role and the regulatory environment are critical.


Water for Asian Cities - the Indore case
By André Dzikus and Pieter van Dongen

The north-west Indian city of Indore has been suggested as the first city to benefit from UN-HABITAT's new Water for Asian Cities programme. The main city of Madhya Pradesh state, Indore has a population of 1.6 million with a high annual growth rate of 4.6 percent. But it is located in a region where water is scarce.


A novel private sector initiative for the poor
By Robert E. Sullivan

How does one get cheap, clean water into a Philippine coastal town? Easy, with a debit card that you carry in your pocket. It is beginning to work fairly well, and cheaply, for the poorest people, in Ronda, Cebu, the Philippines. According to entrepreneur Quentin Kelly, it may be the wave of the future for poverty stricken rural and urban areas that do not have electric power.

Removing human waste - the Vacutug solution
By Graham Alabaster and Iole Issaias
While world andcivil society agonise over how to meet theMillennium Development Goal of halving the number of poeple without access to adequate water and sanitation by 2015, interim solutions have to be found to remove human waste safely from slums that are home to almost 1 billion people around the world.


A unique community-led initiative in West Africa
By Malick Gaye

Global water consumption has increased so dramatically over the last 50 years that it is now at the top of the agenda of many organisations.

Best Practices in Water and Sanitation
UN-HABITAT's Water for African Cities Programme is a collaborative initiative of UN-HABITAT and UNEP within the framework of the UN system-wide Special Initiative on Africa. The programme is collaborating with a variety of international agencies, NGOs and donors, including the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).


In praise of UN-HABITAT's value-based water education project for African Cities.

Just like in any society, people at our school hardly realised the importance of water and the need for its conservation.

Taps were often left running. The school had many leaking pipes. Pupils and teachers usually ignored such leakages, assuming they would simply be repaired. Pupils would take unnecessarily long showers. Toilets were often flushed for no apparent reason.

Join the debate
We welcome readers' letters to stimulate the debate. These will be published under this Readers' Forum, at the discretion of the Editor, who may shorten or edit material to meet space and style requirements. The remaining issue this year will cover Urban Land Policy and Management. Write to, or to the Information Services Section (Habitat Debate), P.O. Box 30030, GPO, Nairobi, 00100, KENYA, or fax number 254-20-623477.


The Challenge of Slums
UN-HABITAT's Global Report on Human Settlements 2003

Every two years, UN-HABITAT publishes its flagship Global Report onHuman Settlements. This year'sreport entitled, The Challenge of Slums, is packed with statistics and figures on our rapidly urbanizing world - a world in which the total number of people currently living in slums is estimated at 928 million. This figure will grow at an accelerated rate if no policy action is taken now.


- The Challenge of Slums
- Water and Sanitation in the World's Cities: Local Action for Global Goals
- Water for People, Water for Life, 2003



Recent Events

  • Sustainable Cities Programme,
    Local Agenda 21 Global Meeting 2003
  • World Habitat Day 2003
  • International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP), 47th World Congress
  • Africities Summit
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  • Second World Urban Forum


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