Can a sustainable water sector be developed simultaneously with a country’s growth? Can the water sector continue to expand and achieve comprehensive coverage and financial sustainability goals to become a recognized global model for water sector management and performance? Can a country without a single sewer line in 1958 have 90 percent of its wastewater treated by 2012?
The answer is yes! The example is Korea.
Yet Africa’s infrastructure networks lag increasingly behind those of other developing countries in providing telecom, electricity, and water supply and sanitation services. Two-thirds of the population in the region lacks access to electricity and five out of six people don't have access to piped water. The people and industries that do have services pay twice as much as those outside Africa, further reducing regional competitiveness and growth. As cities continue to flood with migrants looking for better economic opportunities, power and water utilities are being challenged to improve the services offered to existing and new users. Given scarce resources and competing development priorities, it is essential to establish ways of using resources (and knowledge!) more effectively.
If you are working on an urban water project, what information do you need? You likely want to know what your project’s water utility knows. How else can you start talking to each other to have a productive discussion, using the same language and standards?
Looking at the financial status of your water utility, would you classify it as a struggling service provider, a developing utility, or a performing service provider? And then, once you decide where it falls on the financial sustainability ladder, what are the best actions to move it up?
In a session on Financing Water for All, Ian Banda, CEO of the Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company, said that poor people who are not connected to the network in the Copperbelt towns in Zambia pay their local vendor 10 to 12 times more for water than poor and rich people pay to the utility. Juergen, from the International Secretariat for Water, a Canadian NGO, found that charging for water is immoral.