June 1, 2006
The provision of clean drinking water, sanitation and stormwater disposal has become a major challenge for the urban centres of the developing world. The number of cities with a population of more than 10 million has increased from one in 1950, to 16 in 2000, and is expected to increase to 21 by 2015. In 2000, 47.2% of the global population was urban, and this percentage is increasing steadily. The rapid rate of urbanization has far exceeded the management and financial capacities of all the levels of governments of all developing countries from about 1960. While more and more people have received access to water and sanitation in recent years, much more remains to be done. At the present rate, it is unlikely that the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to drinking water by 2015, can be achieved universally. The problems faced by the major urban centres of the developing world are analysed, and the opportunities and constraints they face are assessed.