About KE Seetha RamKE Seetha Ram is a senior consulting specialist for ADBI’s capacity building and training projects, visiting professor at the Center for Spatial Information Science, University of Tokyo, Japan, and special advisor to East Japan Railways Company (JR East) for India High Speed Rail.
The “out of sight, out of mind” attitude is proving to be critical for the slow progress toward target 6.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing on global, safely managed sanitation. There is a general lack of awareness among users on the whereabouts of their poop, and the discussion on wastewater management is scarce and still a taboo topic in many parts of the world, leading to a lack of safely managed sanitation services. Besides the lack of demand hampering progress, the supply side of wastewater management is equally grim.
The Smart Cities Mission, launched by the Government of India, aims to transform the urban governance ecosystem, especially urban local bodies (ULBs). It is hoped that the mission will help attract innovation, expertise, and financial resources for the holistic development of the ever-expanding urban areas. The creation of sector-focused, region-specific “special purpose vehicles” (SPVs) is an attempt to unleash the potential of a consortium-based approach in delivering the interdisciplinary ideation and implementation of projects.
In October 2018, the world will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the seminal Declaration of Alma-Ata where the aspiration of “health care for all” was boldly declared. The realities have sadly fallen far short of the rhetoric—half the world lacks access to essential health services and 100 million people fall into financial catastrophe due to medical bills.
Reports from the United Nations estimate that India will add 404 million persons to its urban areas between 2014 and 2050 (UN DESA 2014) and that it will have seven cities with a population of more than 10 million by 2030 (UN DESA 2016). Currently, India is making an ambitious effort in its urban transformation under the “Smart Cities Mission” of the Union Government. With the guidance of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, India’s urban local bodies (ULBs) have been proactively working to achieve better efficiency and equity in the utilization of financial resources for developing municipal infrastructure. They have been augmenting their financial autonomy by developing data-driven and market-based financial instruments that attract investments to their projects.
The City Development Initiative for Asia, the Asian Development Bank, other multilateral agencies, and national governments are funding sewerage systems for medium and large cities throughout Asia. Even at “full” sewerage coverage, cities often find that some, if not many, buildings are still reliant on septic tanks, pits, or other onsite systems. For cities with or that are planning sewerage systems, co-treatment may enable citywide sanitation by minimizing the need for standalone fecal sludge treatment plants.
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