National workshop on Pro-poor Water and Wastewater Management in Small Towns

18 Mar 2008
Serang, Indonesia

This two years project was completed in February 2009 and assisted local governments and their civil society partners, including the poor, to develop integrated and participatory strategies for water and wastewater management. It collected and disseminated information on innovative and cost effective technologies and approaches in water and wastewater management that small towns can afford.

The issue:

Water is rapidly becoming a scarce resource in the region. One of the key reasons for this scarcity is that water resources are mismanaged and water is wasted on a large scale. In urban areas between 30 to 60 percent of safe drinking water is unaccounted for. Water supply and sanitation services in many towns are financially unsustainable because current tariffs are not even sufficient to cover operation and maintenance costs. This is particularly true for small towns and even more in the poorer neighborhoods of such towns, where the poor end up paying five times as much for water as the rich and the middle classes.

While water supply coverage in urban areas is fairly extensive, sanitation coverage lags behind. Even in those towns that have sanitation infrastructure, waste water is often released in natural waterways without any treatment.

One of the reasons for poor water management is the fact that issues are not addressed holistically and therefore policies and strategies are not integrated

Project Activities:

The project built on the work of the numerous national and international agencies responsible for water and sanitation in Asia and the Pacific. It facilitated knowledge exchange across the region on policies and practices that can extend water and sanitation services for poor citizens.

Case Studies:

14 innovative practices from 7 different countries in Asia were documented and are published at They describe a wide variety of arrangements to extend water and sanitation services to the urban poor. Among them:

• Community-managed piped water systems
• Public-private-community partnerships
• Low cost sanitation facilities for densely populated areas
• Water-conservation schemes

The detailed documentation paid special attention to the sustainability and potential for replication of each case. The institutional environment of each practice is also analysed.

ESCAP assisted the local governments of Serang (Indonesia) and Villareal (Philippines) in developing pro-poor integrated water and sanitation strategies in their towns. The plans favoured projects that were financially sustainable, required little initial donor funding and encouraged community contributions.

The assistance was in partnership with national institutions specialised in building capacities of local governments, which can disseminate and replicate the experience in other municipalities. ESCAP analyzed and disseminated the results and lessons learned in other countries of the region.

Capacity Building for Local Governments:

Good practices and principles identified by the project were disseminated through face-to-face workshops and e-learning courses.

National workshops have been conducted in Indonesia and The Philippines where 8 local governments learned pro-poor strategies and prepared water and sanitation plans for their cities. Local governments from Cambodia and Viet Nam learned about these practices at an international workshop organised by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

An e-learning course on “Governance in Urban Sanitation” has been prepared in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The first session of this course took place in 2009. See more.