Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor - Natural hazards, climate change, governance and human rights
In informal settlements of mega cities of Sub-Saharan Africa, water and sanitation services are still severely lacking. As a result, a high number of people suffer from preventable illnesses and die every year. Population growth will further increase these challenges in future. Improving global access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation is therefore one of the most effective means to enhance living conditions in order to break the cycle of poverty, enhance public health and save lives in these urban slums.
Flash floods caused by heavy precipitation events in small areas pose a great threat for especially the urban poor, living in informal settlements like slums. In these areas of high risk, there is no or only inefficient resilience against a variety of hazards. The lack of infrastructure specifically in the water sector leads to an inability to deal with storm water. The main form of waste and sewage disposal is an open sewage channel running through the slum areas. The deposition of waste in the surrounding living quarters and areas used for urban and peri-urban agriculture by a flash flood increases health risks.
The Alumni Summer School “Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor - Natural hazards, climate change, governance and human rights” offered the chance for researchers to tackle the problems related to the fast growing informal and degrading formal urban settlements in an inter-disciplinary team. The Kenyan capital city Nairobi was taken as an example since most work has been done and results have been achieved in technical cooperation with Kenyan institutions for sustainable improvement of the water and sanitation sector.
The Summer School is jointly funded by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit).
The Summer School was jointly funded by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit). The Summer School was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 4th December to 17th December 2011. The Summer School was organised by the Centre for International Capacity Development Universität Siegen (UoS); Institute for Flood Management & River Engineering, University of Kaiserslautern (UoK), Biomechanical & Environmental Engineering Department, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT); Department of Geography, Kenyatta University; College of Agricultural and Environmental Science, Makerere University (MAK). The event was supported by German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and German International Cooperation (GIZ).
The summer school was organized as a meeting point of academia and multi-stakeholders development organizations to facilitate exchange of knowledge and expertise. More than 50 participants – German Alumni, professionals and technicians from the area, PhD students and slum dwellers – representing various disciplines as well as different sectors of society worked together for understanding the burning problems of informal settlements and discussing short-term and long-term solutions.
Extremely high population growth and density living in poverty are paralleled by poor or missing water and sanitation infrastructure. A distinct pro-poor policy as stipulated by the Kenyan water sector reform and underscored by the new Kenyan Constitution with a formulated right of access to water and sanitation for everybody is welcomed as a decisive step forward. Strengthening the key water and sanitation services providers is the way forward for improving livelihoods of millions of people.
The participants agreed that intercultural and multidisciplinary attempts are offering solutions for policy change. Therefore, a series of seminars and summer schools should address the topics of “Water Supply and Sanitation for the Urban Poor” concentrating on various aspects in the urban centres in East Africa in the next years. The joint effort of academic, professional and development institutions is highly appreciated. More research is needed to consolidate existing findings e.g. from the Kenyan water sector and lay the standards for up-scaling and dissemination.
German institutions active in GAWN
- DWA - German Association for Water, Waste water and Waste
- Cologne University of Applied Sciences, ITT - Institute for Technology in the Tropics
- Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Institute for Sanitary Engineering
- University of Siegen, Centre for International Capacity Development
- Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences - Urban water management
- Justus Liebig Universität Giessen - Center for international Development and Environmental Research
- Technische Universität Dresden, Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Technical Hydrodynamics
- cewas - a Swiss non-profit association specialised in improving business practices in water and sanitation
- Weltweit – Gesellschaft zur Förderung lokaler Initiativen e. V.