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South Asia: Water Supply and Sanitation

Water Supply & Sanitation
Water Supply & Sanitation

Almost one in five people in South Asia still lack improved water sources, despite significant progress made in recent years and the availability of many technically feasible and low-cost solutions. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) include a target to halve the fraction of the world’s population without access to water and sanitation by 2015. The world is roughly on course to reach the target for water supply, but will fall short by half a billion people in sanitation.

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Key Challenges

The costs of inadequate water supply and sanitation are high: 1.6 million children die every year from diarrhea, mainly as a result of inadequate sanitation, water supply, and hygiene.

Key challenges can be divided in four main areas:

- Reliability: in urban areas, water is never distributed for more than a few hours a day, while in rural areas many hand pumps are defunct due to insufficient maintenance;
- Financial unsustainability: many systems do not recover operation and maintenance costs from user charges;
- Environmental unsustainability: (especially in India), over-exploitation of ground water for irrigation purpose, as a result of highly subsidized electricity. The contamination of ground water by agriculture runoff and improper use of sanitation facilities are affecting the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption;
- Affordability: Despite subsidies, costs are high because of lack of other option. The poor suffer the most.

World Bank Support

The Bank managed “Water and Sanitation Program” has played a key role for almost thirty years, supporting improved practices in the WSS sector, with a special focus on service to the urban and rural poor and in building capacity to implement them. In addition, the also Bank managed “Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Fund” supports several activities in the WSS sector in India (Mumbai and Ahmadabad); It has published a revised toolkit for Public Private Partnership in WSS.

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