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Untreated and Unsafe

2019 - Solving the Urban Sanitation Crisis in the Global South


David Satterthwaite, Victoria A. Beard, Diana Mitlin, and Jillian Du


World Resources Institute


Cities must ensure universal access to safe, reliable, and affordable sanitation so that all urban residents can lead productive, healthy, and thriving lives. New analysis of 15 cities in the global South shows that on average, 62 percent of sewage and fecal sludge is unsafely managed somewhere along the sanitation service chain.

Global monitoring efforts have resulted in an underestimation of the urban sanitation crisis and the risks to public health, the economy, and the environment. New data and analysis at the city and sub-city level is needed to galvanize action.

Sewers are convenient, safe, sanitary, and work well in dense urban environments and in multistory buildings. From the perspective of the household, sewer connections and services are often less expensive than on-site sanitation options.

In the absence of universal access to sewers, cities need to find an optimal combination of off-site and on-site sanitation options. On-site sanitation systems place enormous responsibility on households and private providers, and thus require strong government capacity to regulate and enforce sanitation standards to ensure public health and safety.

Citywide upgrading of informal settlements can improve low-income households’ access to urban sanitation. City governments should work with community organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and federations to improve and extend sanitation to informal settlements and address affordability.


Partizipation und Stadtplanung Soziale Stadt Stadtsanierung Kommunale Dienstleistungen Wasserversorgung / Abwasserentsorgung


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World Resources Institute

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