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Convention on Water and Wastewater in South East Asia (S4-Gerhart)

Convention on Water and Wastewater in South East Asia (S4-Gerhart)

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Published by adbwaterforall
Convention on Water and Wastewater in South East Asia
Convention on Water and Wastewater in South East Asia

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Published by: adbwaterforall on Jul 05, 2011
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 The Mekong River Catchment Water and Sanitation Initiative
"Improving Access to Water and Sanitation Services, Enhancing Capacities of Public Institutions and Communities, and Assessing Investment Needs for Secondary Townsin the Mekong Basin – a new initiative of UN-Habitat called MEK-WATSAN"
Mr. Gerhart SchneiderUN-HABITAT Regional Technical Advisor
1. Background
1.1 Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation
An important outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)in Johannesburg, attended by over 100 Heads of State and Governments, was theendorsement of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) put forward atthe Millennium Summit in 2000, and a renewed commitment to achieving these goals.The MDGs and the outcomes of WSSD underlined that the global water crisis is a threatto the interlinked issues of economic development, poverty reduction, the environmentand, hence to peace.In the year 2000, a total of about 1.1 billion people lacked access to improved water supply and 2.4 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation, out of these 61 and 79 per cent respectively lived in Asia. Due to this large number of people without proper access to water and sanitation, Asia is receiving special attention.In a response to these objectives formulated at above-mentioned and other major summits, water conferences and deliberations at international level, UN-HABITAT has been implementing a major programme entitled
Water for Asian Cities (WAC) Programme.
This programme is a collaborative initiative of UN-HABITAT, the AsianDevelopment Bank and interested Governments of Asian countries, and it was officiallylaunched at the 3
World Water Forum on 18
March 2003. The initiative on the MekongBasin, which is described here, is being implemented under this WAC Programme (asimilar Programme called Water for African Cities, is already being implementedsuccessfully in the Lake Victoria region of East Africa and in Southern Africa;experiences being made there are to be used for our work in Asia).WAC Programme Objectives:The Water for Asian Cities Programme is supporting the implementation of the water andsanitation related Millennium Development Goals and targets (MDGs) in Asian cities. Itis especially promoting:
 Pro-poor Urban Water Governance
The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do notnecessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB),or its Board of Directors, or the governments they represent. ADB does notguarantee the accuracy of the data included in this paper and accepts noresponsibility for any consequences of their use. Terminology used may notnecessarily be consistent with ADB official terms.
Urban Water Demand Management 
 Integrated Urban Environmental Sanitation
 Income generation for the urban poor through community based water and  sanitation services
The programme seeks to achieve this by mobilizing political will, raising awarenessthrough advocacy, information and education; training and capacity building; promotingnew investments in the urban water and sanitation sector; and systematic monitoring of  progress towards MDGs.
Upon request of Ministers of Mekong riparian countries responsible for water, animportant new component of the WAC Programme is currently being developed. It iscalled "Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Rehabilitation in Secondary Towns in theMekong Region in Support of MDGs" (in short: MEK-WATSAN). This initiative isdescribed in detail here.
1.2 Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation in theMekong Region
Some of the countries within the Mekong River Region have already achieved or are onthe right track 
to achieve the water and sanitation target of halving, by 2015, theproportion of people without access to improved water supply and sanitationservices.
However there are still countries or regions within the countries, which arefacing poor water supply and sanitation services and are therefore struggling to achievethe targets set. But improving the water and sanitation situation is also a critical factor for meeting most of the other Millenium goals, which include eradicating extreme povertyand hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality andwomen’s empowerment; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combatingmajor diseases; and improving environmental sustainability.Water is also critical to other facets of sustainable development – from environmental protection and food security to increased tourism and investment, from the empowermentof women and the education of girls to reductions in productivity losses due to morbidityand malnutrition. Thus, increasing access to domestic water and sanitation services andimproving water resources management are catalytic entry points for efforts to helpdeveloping countries fight poverty and hunger, safeguard human health, reduce childmortality, promote gender equality, and manage and protect natural resources.
2. Some features of the Mekong Basin and reasons for working there
Map 1: The Mekong River Basin
The Mekong River Basin is the catchment area of the Mekong River and its tributaries insix countries. Over a length of 4200 km the Mekong river passes from its origins in theHighlands of Tibet to its estuary in the South China Sea (the Mekong delta) through theYunnan Province of the People's Republic of China, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar,Thailand and Vietnam. About 60-65 Million people are living in the approximately795,000 square kilometres of the Mekong River catchment. This population dependsmore or less directly on the Mekong and its tributaries for food, water, transport andmany other aspects of their daily lives. In the Mekong Delta in Vietnam alone, twentymillion people make their living in connection to resources provided by the river.
2.1 Major Issues:
80 per cent of the population of the Mekong River Basin is living in rural areas wherethey lead subsistence or semi-subsistence agricultural lifestyles. Nevertheless, urbanization is one of the most important features in the Mekong Region.Urban growth rates are in the dimension of 5% and thus double as high as national population growth rates. This rapid process of urbanization is posing severe challengesfor many cities and towns in the region. Problems faced are poor economic performance,environmental degradation, deteriorating water and sanitation services, poor managementof solid wastes, public transport, crime, violence and natural disasters. All these elementsundermine the cities' attractiveness as living space, and their opportunities to attractinvestments and generate economic growth. These problems if unchecked will result in anincreased urban poverty.Rapid urbanization in many towns within the Mekong River Basin has severe impacts onriver water quality, at least locally (e.g. in downstream areas of municipal discharge points). Many of the secondary towns are frequently neglected in national/regionaldevelopment plans. There is a need to address the decayed infrastructure and this isexacerbated by the lack of financial resources and capacity amongst local authoritieswhere specialist assistance and skills often are not available.
2.2 Poverty
Although the region is experiencing rapid economic growth, a large number of people inthe Mekong River are still living on less than a dollar a day. The Lower Mekong Basinremains, in terms of per capita income, among the poorest regions in the world. Except

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