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 Project Towns

Water supply and sanitation projects for selected towns:
a) along one or more than one of the economic corridors, and
b) outside the economic corridors.

The towns were selected according to the following:

  • Need, expressed in terms of service coverage
  • Poverty incidence
  • Consistency with the Government's plans and policies
  • Accessibility
  • Availability of raw water source, and
  • Commitment and ability of local authorities to support the proposal.

In the development of economic corridors serious efforts need to be pursued to provide access to water supply and sanitation facilities to secondary urban towns as mass inflow of population will place an enormous burden.

Economic corridors, expected to be completed by 2012, are being developed along transport routes of the six GMS countries to link infrastructure with production and trade. These corridors are developed through planned and systematic project, policy and institutional interventions. Much progress has been made in the three major GMS economic corridors:

  • East-West corridor,
  • North-South corridor, and
  • Southern Economic corridor.

The economic corridors are developed to realize the GMS vision to achieve enhanced connectivity, increased competitiveness, and a greater sense of community in the GMS.

The vast majority of these new urban citizens will be the poor, newly arrived rural migrants. They invariably have to pay higher prices for their water, or use unsafe water, as well as endure unsanitary conditions. The opportunity to rise out of this poverty trap is constrained by the limited capacity of local governments and authorities to sustain or expand water supply access, or support sanitation and wastewater coverage in secondary towns.

Table 2 delineates that levels of national coverage for water supply and sanitation are reasonably high, while Table 3 highlights that these figures, however, mask a much skewed distribution, in which the coverage rates of secondary towns can be as low as 10% for sanitation and 16% for water supply.

Without a doubt, secondary urban towns in the economic corridors will face far more serious threats compared to other secondary towns in this region; rapid population growth will result in additional demand of water, energy and settlement areas. The economic corridors will be catalyst to rapid urbanisation, which essentially will see that many secondary urban centres in the region facing the problem of environmental degradation, poor management of public transport, crime, violence and natural disasters.

All these elements have the potential to undermine the centres' competitiveness, their attractiveness as living space, and their opportunities to attract investments and receive bank loans. All of these problems reduce the welfare of all urban residents and the fruition of the intended objectives of these corridors, and also the fact remains that poor people are the most affected in this whole process. In this light, it is essential that focused thrust is to upgrade the urban services in these corridors. On the other hand improved water and sanitation services in these secondary urban towns will help meeting most of the MDGs, and in turn will be instrumental in bringing about sustainable socio- economic developments that these economic corridors seek to achieve.

Copyright © UN-Habitat - Urban Basic Services Branch, Water for Asian Cities Programme, 2003 - 2013