A call to sanitation action
Wastewater Pipes Asia

A call to sanitation action! IWA urges regulators to adopt CWIS approach

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

A new report from the IWA calls on regulators to adopt a Citywide Inclusive Sanitation approach to help solve the mega-challenge of urban wastewater.

Catalysing sanitation solutions

How do we solve the mega-challenge of 2.1 billion people lacking access to safe sanitation in urban environments?

How can we raise the necessary finance, estimated at £105 billion per year, to meet this challenge when affordability and taxation rates are so low in the challenge areas?

According to the International Water Association (IWA), one answer lies in regulators adopting a Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) approach.

A new call to action and report from the association, entitled ‘Regulating for Citywide Inclusive Sanitation’, aims to support regulators to catalyse the delivery of much-needed sanitation solutions.

“Regulators (and their equivalents) in a wide variety of contexts have shown that they can make a significant difference in nudging forward the monopoly piped water supply sector," the report said.

By empowering service providers to improve their performance for the benefit of their customers, and new customers, the CWIS approach also challenges them through comparative competition (benchmarking) and penalising failures, the IWA added.

How big is the challenge, and why the CWIS model?

The IWA previously said that to achieve “citywide inclusive sanitation”, a radical shift in mindsets and practices is needed in sanitation and urban development.

The proportion of the urban population living in slums or informal settlements worldwide was estimated to be 66 per cent in low-income countries. In lower-middle countries, this is 37 per cent and even 24 per cent in upper-middle-income countries.

“Meeting the sanitation needs of informal settlement dwellers is a particular challenge relating to affordability and accessibility.”

Meeting the sanitation needs of informal settlement dwellers and ending open defecation is a particular challenge relating to affordability and accessibility, where conventional water flushed sewerage is even more difficult and expensive to install.

Here non-sewered service options require regular access to pits or tanks for desludging. This is in addition to possible institutional prohibitions in serving informal areas.

CWIS is a public service approach to “planning and implementing urban sanitation systems” to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.2 by 2030.

Preparing a "regulatory CWIS road map" would enable stakeholders to deliver CWIS in the context of developing public policy.

Furthermore, CWIS should be recognised as the critical first step to the longer-term goal of Integrated Urban Water Management planning. This should also include greywater and stormwater.

No one size fits all approach

To achieve CWIS, the IWA said service providers are expected to enable and oversee subcontracted elements of the complete service. This could include services delivered by private companies, as well as community-based and non-governmental organisations.

“While there is no one-size-fits all approach, taking steps now can play a key role in delivering sanitation services which work for everyone."

This approach, which could be based on the existing way in which the true cost of water is measured, could help regulators make the financial case for greater investment in sanitation, the organisation said.

“While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, taking steps now can play a key role in delivering sanitation services which work for everyone – ultimately bringing an array of social, health, and economic benefits,” said Daniela Bemfica, strategic programmes manager at the IWA.

Five recommendations

The report makes several recommendations, including:

  • Undertaking a review of all existing legislation and regulation relating to sanitation and developing a roadmap on the way forward
  • Improving integration between water and sanitation by giving suppliers responsibility for the provision of both services
  • Ensuring sanitation regulation is harmonised and is directly focused on improving public health and the environment
  • Developing plans for innovative finance models, including potentially through private finance and subsidies
  • Enhancing engagement with local communities, using public awareness campaigns, benchmarking, and using targets where applicable.

“IWA hopes regulators will take up this call to action, and we look forward to engaging further with them in the near future,” added Bemfica.

- A full copy of the report can be found here.

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