event 17 jul. 2018

Water Supply in Southeast Asia // "Water is life, contaminated water might mean death"

By Ruth Erlbeck. 2.1 billion (3 in 10) people worldwide lack access to safe, readily available water, 4.5 billion (6 in 10) people worldwide lack safely managed sanitation, though there is a human right to water and sanitation! The energy cost for pumping water and treating waste water closely links water and energy. As part of the Urban Nexus Programme, GIZ has set up metering and monitoring schemes in India's city of Rajkot and in Korat in Thailand.

Annie spratt 638570 unsplash
https://unsplash.com/photos/PS8L_gmzW_4 (C) Annie Spratt / Unsplash

We are facing an increasing and alarming water scarcity in some regions due to droughts occurring more often because of climate change (e.g. Cape Town/South Africa, parts of India). Huge water leakages amounting to 50% and more in some of the piped water supply networks of cities (Mexico D.F., Lagos, etc.) aggravate the increasing water crisis. The careless usage of ground water without adequate recharge and knowledge about existing ground water reserves leads to the sinking of cities (e.g. Jakarta) and salt water seepage in coastal areas as well as to cities running out of water followed by desertification (Beijing, Ulaanbaatar e.g.).

The reasons for these phenomena result from poor water and waste water management basically caused by:

  • Deficient water and waste water governance (framework conditions, policies, tariffs, etc.);
  • Institutional fragmentation and lack of coordination (e.g. separation of water and waste water utilities);
  • Infrastructure challenges such as missing, aging or not adequate physical water and waste water infrastructure; or
  • Missing cross-sectorial Nexus approaches (integrated resource management).

With regard to the Nexus partner city of Rajkot – a smart city within the 100 smart cities program of India – the Municipal Corporation of Rajkot is trying to overcome the usual 20 minutes’ water provision per day the majority of Indian cities are suffering from. The Municipality runs a pilot for 24x7 (i.e. 24 hours water supply during 7 days of the week) in a pilot area. For this purpose water meters are installed in every household to measure the water consumption and charge accordingly. If the pilot proves to be successful, scaling up for the whole of Rajkot city is envisaged. Best practice examples from other cities that have switched from 20 minutes water supply per day to 24x7 (e.g. Nagpur, another smart city in India) have shown, that after an adjustment period, more water is saved and hence also energy to pump it, than before. Within the 20 minutes’ per day program people tend to open the water tapes to fill the bath tubes, water tanks etc. without minding an overflow of water.

GIZ is giving advisory service with regard to the metering program and the monitoring of the pilot.

In Korat, the second biggest city of Thailand, the GIZ study on water supply found out that 50% of the water processed for water supply of the citizens of Korat went unaccounted for causing monetary losses of EUR 4m per year for the municipal budget. Through a replacement program of obsolete water meters of 25-30 years of age was started as a first step to reduce the provision of unaccounted water. After monitoring the progress the Municipality has now speeded up the replacement programme in order to reduce its financial losses. Moreover, an intensive leak detection programme for the water supply network has been introduced, combined with thorough monitoring of maintenance and repair works done including their documentation.

It should be pointed out that water supply should always also consider waste water management as a consequence of water consumption. Water supply and waste water management including sanitation are intrinsically interlinked, reflecting two sides of the same coin. Unfortunately, this is often neglected by policy makers and development organizations causing severe problems in the aftermaths of water supply projects increasing the amount of water supplied without offering respective solutions for discharge or reuse of waste water.

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