Urbanisation and emerging economies: Issues and potential solutions for water and food security. uri icon

abstract

  • Urbanisation will be one of the 21st century's most transformative trends. By 2050, it will increase from 55% to 68%, more than doubling the urban population in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Urbanisation has multifarious (positive as well as negative) impacts on the wellbeing of humans and the environment. The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form the blueprint to achieve a sustainable future for all. Clean Water and Sanitation is a specific goal (SDG 6) within the suite of 17 interconnected goals. Here we provide an overview of some of the challenges that urbanisation poses in relation to SDG 6, especially in developing economies. Worldwide, several cities are on the verge of water crisis. Water distribution to informal settlements or slums in megacities (e.g. >50% population in the megacities of India) is essentially non-existent and limits access to adequate safe water supply. Besides due to poor sewer connectivity in the emerging economies, there is a heavy reliance on septic tanks, and other on-site sanitation (OSS) system and by 2030, 4.9 billion people are expected to rely on OSS. About 6293% of the urban population in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia rely on septic tanks, where septage treatment is rare. Globally, over 80% of wastewater is released to the environment without adequate treatment. About 11% of all irrigated croplands is irrigated with such untreated or poorly treated wastewater. In addition to acute and chronic health effects, this also results in significant pollution of often-limited surface and groundwater resources in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Direct and indirect water reuse plays a key role in global water and food security. Here we offer several suggestions to mitigate water and food insecurity in emerging economies.

publication date

  • 2020
  • 2020