City sanitation plans
India’s growing population – around 1.3 billion in 2016 – is also increasingly urbanised. In 2001, the urban population had increased to 28%, and the towns and urban agglomerations to 5,545. Both figures are expected to rise with urban Indians reaching 600 million by 2031, according to UN projections.
Municipal governments face grave challenges in their quest to provide residents with basic services such as water, sanitation and rubbish collection. Unmanaged sanitary and solid waste is unsightly and causes pollution. Only one tenth of towns and cities has a sewerage network and so most waste water never reaches treatment plants. Instead it flows into streams, rivers and groundwater, polluting precious water sources, including the Ganga. The impact on people is also very high: poor hygiene causes disease, and women and girls are especially vulnerable when using ‘facilities’ in the open air.
Municipalities face an uphill battle to extend sewage networks and waste management services to larger and larger populations. Urban sprawl compounds the problem: new residents settle on the edges of towns and cities without any urban infrastructure in place, encroaching on rural land. Building and population density is low, so municipal services need to stretch further than needed.
The Indian government is confronting these problems through the “Swachh Bharat” (Clean India) initiative and other missions targeted to improve the sanitation system in the country. GIZ is providing support to India’s sanitation agenda by providing technical expertise to develop state and municipal strategies. It also supports cities with innovative approaches and scaling up successful pilot actions, using lessons learnt from predecessor projects.