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continued on next pageunicefUnited Nations Childrens FundFonds des Nations Unies pour lenfanceFondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia

his issue of WATERfront focuses on urbanenvironmental sanitation. In responseto a call for documenting good working

experiences with urban communities, UNICEFWater, Environment and Sanitation profession-als sent articles about projects supported intheir countries. In addition articles have beenprovided by institutions working in the sector.

The projects described take place in well-known cities, such as Harare and Acapulco, aswell as in cities moredifficult to locate on themap: Resistencia (Argen-tina), Nouakchott (Mau-ritania) and Santiago(Cape Verde). Whetherthey live in a metropolisor small town, the chil-dren and their families inthe case studies all havesomething in common:they are poor and live inharsh conditions due to inadequacies in hous-ing, water, sanitation, drainage, solid wastedisposal and vector controloften in combi-nation with poor health and education systemsand environmental pollution

At the beginning of the 21st century, abouthalf of the worlds population lives in areasclassified as urban. By 2025, it is expected togrow to almost two-thirds.1 The most rapid

Urban environmental sanitation:What can be done to improve theliving conditions of children inlow-income urban settlements?

changes in urban demographics will occur indeveloping countries, and the majority of thesepeople will live in low-income urban settle-ments. From a rights-based perspective aimingto reach the unreached, governments, inter-national agencies, donors and support organi-sations have but one choice: not to ignore thesehighly vulnerable children in such urban areas.

As far back as 1961,2 UNICEFs positionwas very progressive: if need was the principal

criterion for assistance,there was no justificationfor excluding urban chil-dren from its assistance.However it was not until1971 that UNICEFsurban area activities fullystarted, with the develop-ment of the community-based Urban BasicServices (UBS) pro-grammes. UNICEFs UBS

programmes paved the way for many otheragencies to take an approach that directly in-volved the communities. What was learned wasthat without the involvement of the commu-nity, water and sanitation service programmesof almost any type were doomed.

UBS programmes demanded that the com-munity establish priorities and that facilitating

Table of Contents

1 Urban environmental sanitation:What can be done to improvethe living conditions of childrenin low-income urban settlements

3 Strategic elements in watersupply and sanitation servicesin urban low-income areas

7 Sanitation and child rights inpoor urban areas of Harare

9 The link between indoor airpollution and acute respiratoryinfections in children

10 The struggle for water in urbanpoor areas of Nouakchott,Mauritania

13 Services for the urban poor:lessons learned

16 Rehabilitation of urban watersupply projectsexperiencefrom Northern Iraq

19 Plight of poor living in Brazilsdump areas

22 The shift to poor urban areas:A strategic approach to cost-effectiveness in water,environment and sanitation

24 Integrated sanitation andhousing improvement inlow-income communities inArgentina

27 User perceptions in urbansanitation provision: a briefingpaper

28 Prosperous Acapulco plaguedby unplanned growth

32 In Istmina, we women havechanged a lot


1 Source: World Bank, Entering the 21st Century.World Development Report 1999/2000, Oxford Univer-sity Press, August 1999.

2 Source: Cousins, William J., Urban Basic Services inUNICEF: An Historical Overview, UNICEF HistorySeries, Monograph XIV, 1992.

The most rapid changesin urban demographics will

occur in developing countries,and the majority of these people

will live in low-incomeurban settlements.


Issue 14 April 2000unicef WATERfront

partners, such as local governments andwater authorities, respond on a flexiblebasismaking clear that the softwarepart was more important for the successof a project than the actual hardwareinstalled. In spite of the good work doneunder the UBS programmes, there havealways been problems getting others onstream to bring the urban programmesto scale. Even highly successful UBSprojects such as the Tegucigalpa Modelin Honduras and the El Mezquitalproject in Guatemala have largely beenfailures in terms of large-scale replica-tion in their respective countries.

Within the context of UNICEFsFuture Global Agenda for Children,3

describing the focus of UNICEF beyond2000, three priority outcomes for chil-dren are that:

infants start life healthy and youngchildren are nurtured in a safe andcaring environment that enablesthem to be physically healthy, men-tally alert, emotionally secure, so-cially competent and intellectuallyable to learn;

all children, including the poorestand most disadvantaged, have accessto and complete basic education ofgood quality;

adolescents have opportunities tofully develop their individual capaci-ties in safe and enabling environ-ments and are helped to participateand contribute to their societies.

The challenge of coping with urbanwater, environmental and sanitationproblems beyond the year 2000 requiresan integrated approach (leaving thesectors and vertical approaches behind)

and it cannot beaccomplished with-out multiple part-nerships. The way toproceed is by devel-oping holistic ap-proaches dealingwith the specificcharacteristics ofurban low-incomeareas rather than bydeveloping isolatedpilot projects.

The challengesare significant. How-ever, the experiencesof the UNICEFWater, Environmentand Sanitation pro-fessionals, and theother partners inthis issue, serve asreminders that evenwith limited funds,there are feasible,doable strategiesthat can be under-taken. As the follow-ing case studiesvividly illustrate,many scenarios canaddress the subject.

Nouakchott, Mauritanias capital,struggles for water. Its location at theedge of a desert makes water scarce,expensive and unfit for drinkingpurposes. At the request of the citysmayor, UNICEF supported the reor-ganisation of the stand-pipe manage-ment system, helping to improveliving conditions for the urban poorby stabilizing water prices and im-proving the organisation of watervendors.

In peri-urban Harare, a participatoryprocess was used, with communitymembers themselves identifying themost significant problems in theirliving environment. Women andchildren saw inadequate water supplyand full or unhygienic communitylatrines as their greatest concerns.After these priorities, they recog-nised the lack of formal employmentand the need for full day pre-schoolcentres.

In northern Iraq, UNICEF was re-sponsible for the rehabilitation ofurban water-supply projects dam-aged by the Gulf War. The experi-ences gained, particularly regardingthe process of planning, implementa-tion and management, will be useful

continued on page 23

Due to limited space availability, wewere not able to include all the UNICEFcountry experiences that we receivedfor this issue. These articles will be pub-lished in future editions of WATERfront,and will be made available

3 UNICEF Executive Board DocumentE/ICEF/1999/10, 13 April 1999.

The way to proceed is bydeveloping holistic approaches

dealing with the specificcharacteristics of urban

low-income areas rather thanby developing isolated

pilot projects.






n To



Issue 14 April 2000 unicef WATERfront

Strategic elements in water supply andsanitation services in urban low-income areasBy Madeleen Wegelin-Schuringa, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, Delft, the Netherlands

Voluntary Health Group at work, Kibera Settlement, Nairobi, Kenya

Introductionn many cities and towns in develop-ing countries, access to basic infra-structure services such as water

supply, sanitation, solid-waste collectionand drainage is inadequate for a major-ity of the residents, especially for thoseliving in low-income urban areas. Therapid rate at which the populations inthese areas are increasing compoundsthis situation and often leads to environ-mental living conditions that endangerthe health of the residents, with conse-quent losses in productivity and qualityof life.

Many governments have come torealise they will not be able to extendservices to all urban residents with con-ventional strategies. It is to this end thatinnovative approaches are being intro-duced, not only with respect to technicalsolutions, but also in ways to involvedifferent stakeholders. On the basis of

the experiences built up over the years, anumber of strategic elements can beidentified that affect the viability andsustainability of all activities aimed atimproving basic service provision inurban low-income areas. These elementsare legal and regulatory framework, thesocial context, the institutional context,the financial context, the environmentalcontext, technology and service levels.

A short introduction to these ele-ments is given below, as well as somekey options for actions to address them

in practice. Although it is clear thatsome of these options are beyond a par-ticular programme to change, it may bepossible to convince a municipality toadapt existing rules and regulations on atrial basis. If all have to wait until poli-cies or management structur