Asian sanitation data book 2008 – achieving sanitation for all

The overall city sanitation picture in Asia is not bright. Sanitation has not been given sufficient priority and certainly lags behind provision of drinking water. This is one of the findings of a survey of 27 cities published by the Asian Development Bank in the “Asian sanitation data book 2008“.

Asian-sanitation-data-book-2008-cover The first data book on sanitation for the Asia and Pacific region, this book features raw data and analyses on the sanitation situation in 27 cities. The cities are members of CITYNET and participants in the Water for Asian Cities Program of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).

Of the 27 cities, 1 is in Bangladesh, 3 are in the People’s Republic of China, 4 are in India, 1 in Indonesia, 3 in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), 5 in Nepal, 3 are in the Philippines, 2 in Sri Lanka, and 5 in Viet Nam

Although the information collected was not complete for all cities, the book draws a number of conclusions from the data.

Based on the survey, the key findings are the following:

  • Lack of sanitation and household wastewater treatment facilities is polluting ground and surface waters.
  • Sustaining public health is an expected outcome of having adequate sanitation, but over half of the cities were unable to report key health statistics. Those that did reveal increasing diarrheal cases when the share of household wastewater increases.
  • Far too many cities still have incidences of open defecation (ranging from 10%–40%) and sanitation coverage depends on private householders investing in toilets and septic tank systems.
  • Although almost all cities are aware of their sanitation problems, only 40% of responding cities have sanitation plans, and few were able to provide information on capital expenditure and operations and maintenance costs.
  • Most cities that provide sanitation services rely on government funding to pay for capital and operating costs, with only 10% indicating that sanitation fees and charges can cover their costs.
  • Multiple agencies have responsibilities for some aspects of sanitation. However, local government seems to be the primary organization. These organizations were operating under at least several national laws and one local law. These institutional arrangements may frustrate action and reduce accountability.

The findings, despite qualifications about data quality, point to several priority actions that government and other stakeholders need to undertake:

  • Initiate city sanitation plans, including setting targets for sanitation outcomes and coverage.
  • Simplify institutional arrangements to strengthen accountability and avoid multiple-agency involvement that can cause delays in taking action; set in place a coordinating mechanism.
  • Review operation and maintenance expenditures and cost recovery policies to ensure sanitation providers can sustain operations and extend services.
  • Improve sanitation benchmark indicators and set in place a sanitation information management system that will be regularly updated to help planners and decision makers make investment and operations decisions.
  • As significant investment is needed, consider sourcing funds from beyond government sources—such as the private sector and user fees, and other revenue-generating mechanisms.

ADB (2009). Asian sanitation data book 2008 : achieving sanitation for all. Manila, Philippines, Asian Development Bank. x, 134 p. : 2 fig., 27 tab. ISBN 978-971-561-808-3
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