3.4 WASH service provision for low-income communities

People on little or no income tend to live in peri-urban areas and slums.

  • What are the main characteristics of peri-urban and slum areas?

  • These areas are characterised by dense populations, poor quality housing, lack of proper access to infrastructure such as roads, and lack of basic services such as water supply, sanitation and waste disposal.

In Study Session 1 you were introduced to the key challenges of WASH service provision in urban areas. You learned that communities living in slums and peri-urban areas of towns and cities are among the least served segments of the urban population.

  • Look at the percentages of the population with access to improved or shared latrine facilities shown in Figure 3.5 and compare the percentage for the richest 20% of the population with that for the poorest 20%.

  • According to Figure 3.5, 85% of those in the richest 20% of the population have access to improved or shared latrine facilities. In comparison, only 15% of those in the poorest 20% of the population have access to such facilities.

You also learned in Study Session 1 that the poor and other vulnerable communities are forced to live in peri-urban and slum areas. They have no choice. Poor people cannot afford to live in areas where basic services are easily accessible so they are forced to live in areas within or on the fringes of the urban area where infrastructure has not reached. Settlement in these areas is illegal because the inhabitants do not have the proper permits to occupy the land and therefore the government may not be able to invest in new infrastructure in these areas.

Providing short-term solutions in such areas is also challenging because the settlements in them are informal and unplanned without proper access roads and pathways. Even when such solutions are introduced, it is difficult to provide continuous support and follow-up for the proper use and management of the facilities by the community. There are therefore huge difficulties for government and other stakeholders involved in improving WASH situations in these areas.

As a result, the most vulnerable communities live in conditions where they are constantly exposed to critical health risks (see Study Session 1, Figure 1.3). Urban communities and local government are faced with the challenge of working together to change this situation, and improve WASH facilities for the most vulnerable.

3.3 Service provision arrangements

3.5 Regulation of WASH services