18 Nov, 2018

Re-interpreting the Relationship between Water and Urban Planning: Interview with Maria Chiara Pastore


1. Why did you decide to focus your research on Dar es Salaam?
I started to work and analyze the African cities about ten years ago, in particular the sub-Saharan Africa cities because I wanted to study the metropolis that managed the distribution and collection of water in a completely different way. Being more specific, the Westernized world is, starting from the Industrial Revolution, completely "piped", or connected through infrastructures that transport water. Daily actions, brushing teeth, turning on the washing machine, and cooking, take for granted the presence of a complex and intricate system of pipes that connects our taps, hidden infrastructures of which we do not know much about. Only when these systems are in crisis, for example for exceptional weather events, we do start to question them, and the ways in which they cross the urban environment. But what happens in those urban places, where millions of people live, and in rapid growth, where there is still coexistence between "piped" systems and "distributed" systems (wells, latrines not connected to the sewers, reservoirs 'water)? Sub-Saharan Africa, and in particular Dar es Salaam, seemed to me the right place to understand this relationship. In particular, in the year I was in Dar es Salaam, a group of professionals worked on the new Master Plan of the City. It seemed to me an unmissable opportunity to study the relationship between the development of the city, the forecasts of a plan, and how it would relate to the development of the water system.

2. Which are the main features of rapid urbanization in this African city? Which social and economic challenges does it pose?
Many African countries have experienced overall development, but at the expenses of growing inequality between the rich and poor in terms of access to water and sanitation services, according to their available finances and proximity to safe, high-quality services. The continued trends of population growth and rapid urbanization have strained a deteriorating water and sanitation infrastructure. The crisis of growing water scarcity, coupled with the other short- and long-term risks posed by climate change, are a potential threat to health security and equitable service provision. Centralization of water management and overlapping of responsibilities can possibly a backlog in the provision and maintenance of infrastructure.
Population growth and sudden urbanization are scaling up the challenges to cities, which are expanding and building entire settlements in more distant areas, usually unconnected to any service. These complex economic conditions foster two co-dependent and yet competing interests. The first attracts foreign investment and creates new neighbourhoods that either replace the old central settlements or establish new real estate on unexploited lands. The second, based on the informal market that feeds and hosts jobs and settlements, is shaping the future conditions of the present metropolis.
Water and sanitation reflect these biases. The only approach for the formalization of the city in terms of services comes with large technical systems, usually working at the city scale, which is comparable to that of major European metropolises. By contrast, few projects consider the small to medium scale, general maintenance or rehabilitation of the infrastructure.

3. How does water contribute to the creation of formal and informal spaces in the city?
This book has focused specifically on the relation between water and sanitation systems and the development of rapidly urbanizing cities, to bridge the gap between two separate disciplines—water management and urban planning, and to reconsider actions that take into account both these disciplines.
In Dar es Salaam, pipes do not cover the entire city and, when present, do not guarantee access to water. Boreholes, wells, water kiosks and water tanks, which support the city through a reliable, small-scale, incremental system of on-site services, ultimately form the backbone of the city itself, especially for the 59% of the population who are not reached by pipes. If we consider the sanitation system, where only 7% of households are reached by piped sewerage, on-site systems essentially hold and manage the wastewater of the entire city, with 4,881,795 inhabitants.
Because of the instability, unreliability, and massive private involvement in the management of water systems, water (or its absence) impacts the structure of entire neighbourhoods. Orography, meteorological and climate conditions, distance from pipes, proximity to main watercourses or water resources, management of the resource, and governance over the services, such as project planning, prioritization, coordination, and implementation of the various activities, the economic model (private or public ownership of the system), when applied to the different urban systems, determine many features of a settlement’s characteristics, and more generally the quality of life within the city.
The five areas analysed within Dar es Salaam show this complexity. Kariakoo and Tambukareli, a formal and informal settlement, respectively, within the consolidated built environment, are undergoing processes of redevelopment; Kimara and the Kigamboni New City project, an informal and proposed formal settlement, respectively, are enhancing the progressive occupation of relatively underdeveloped areas in peri-urban environments; and Hanna Nassif, an area bordering the Mzimbazi River recognized as hazard land, is occupied by temporary shelters. The complex relation between urban structure and water management is explicated by the different ways water reaches these areas and is discharged, as well as the different governance models within the same administrative boundaries.

4. Water has a central role in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly with Goal 6, “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. Did you find any evidence of increasing awareness of sustainability, or projects aimed at promoting it?
My research and my book cover a research period which goes from 2011 to 2016, exactly when Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were ending and SDGs were presented to the public. The targets set by the SDGs are ambitious and yet cover specific issues that were not addressed in the MDGs. The first level of improvement regards the number of people to be reached by “universal and equitable access to safe and affordable” drinking water and “adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene”. This target is very challenging, as in 2015, 663 million people worldwide lacked improved water resources, with 1 in 3 lacking access to improved sanitation, and these figures will increase as the world population grows.
The second main improvement regards the introduction of hygiene, gender, and age issues within the targets, introducing indicators that are not merely technological. Sanitation is addressed not only in relation to the individual (i.e. ending open defecation), but in terms of the full sanitation chain, reflecting the importance of treating wastewater as a dominant source of water pollution and deteriorating water quality. Stakeholders, capacity building, and participatory planning are mentioned in targets 6a and 6b to address the need for knowledge transfer and information sharing to achieve more equitable access to water services.
The Joint Monitoring Programme aims to report on the progressive elimination of inequalities in access to different levels of drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services. “Service level indicators correspond with human rights criteria of quality, availability, accessibility, acceptability and affordability and build directly on existing MDG indicators” (WHO, UNICEF, and JMP 2016 p. 4).
The monitoring of improvements has been divided according to the availability of data, which is a major challenge to tracking progress reliably. Disaggregation of data regarding urban/rural divide, wealth, and sub-national information can improve monitoring in the short term. Data regarding informal settlements (usually not included in household surveys, as the settlements are not officially recognized) or related to age, sex and disability still need to be taken into consideration in order to provide accurate statistics and will be introduced in the medium term. As for the indicators mentioned above, the metrics for water and sanitation are very specific and accurate in considering the various parameters of the services, including proximity, number of people using the facility, water quality, availability, and time spent using the resource, and they will be applied worldwide.
So, I would say that the importance of SDGs in city as Dar es Salaam, which is 80% informal, is that we will hopefully have a clearer picture of the existing situation and possibly plan a better, more sustainable way to provide water and sanitation, of primary importance to the people.

5. In the case of Dar es Salaam, is there any specific relation between water conditions, water supply and urban/rural migration?
Dar es Salaam is the primate city of Tanzania. Being also the most populous city, whereas the city’s population constitutes about 36 per cent of the country's urban population[1], Dar es Salaam is one of the fastest-growing cities in sub-Saharan Africa, with a population growth rate of 5.6 per cent in the last census period (NBS, 2014), compared to about 2.7 per cent for sub-Saharan Africa overall (UNDESA, 2015).
Population growth, in the case of Dar es Salaam as in most of the African countries, is the outcome of rural urban migration, improvement in the overall quality of life, increase in population and international migration.
If we consider the population growth in relation to the water and sanitation services, we see that they represent one of the most striking challenges today. In fact, as Action Aid reported, “The water system [has] failed to keep up with population growth in the city, and by 2003 only 98,000 households in a city of 2.5 million people had a direct water connection [approximately 16 per cent]. Only 26 per cent of water was being billed, 60 per cent was lost through leaks, and a further 13 per cent through unauthorised use, illegal taps and non-payers. In low-income areas, most households had no water connection at all, relying instead on buying water from kiosks, water vendors or their neighbours, at more than three times the price” (Dill, 2010).
Water services in Dar es Salaam as well as in all Africa are unable to cope with this growth. If we look at the figures provided by UNICEF and WHO (2015) and UNICEF and WHO, (2015a) for drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa, we see an absolute decrease in pipe’s provision in urban environments, and some growth in “other improved” resources.
By analysing the infrastructure sector, it becomes evident that cities are overstretching and exploiting poorly developed existing systems. The World Bank (AICD 2010) estimates a need of USD 93 billion per year (15% of GDP) to address current African backlogs, of which two-thirds is required for new infrastructure and rehabilitation, and one-third is devoted to maintenance (Parnell and Oldfield, 2014), but the current infrastructure spending in African countries is around 7.1% of GDP (World Bank, 2012). In the context of low government capacity and limited funds available to invest in new infrastructure, a city’s expansion relies on unconnected informal networks.

6. How water supply can affect food and nutrition in this urban environment?
Sub-Saharan Africa is not poor in water resources, but it lacks the infrastructure to manage the flow, and as Biswas points out, all the easily exploitable resources have already been developed or are in the process of development (Biswas in Tortajada et al, 2006). Therefore, the water sources that have yet to be developed are geographically, technologically and environmentally more complex to handle. As the city grows, and with it, demand for water, additional water supply can only be achieved through the exploitation of new water resources—more distant or drawn from deeper water tables or aquifers and more difficult to extract, and thus more expensive; reduction of leakages; new costly resources like desalination plants; and redirection of water from other uses like agriculture, affecting national policies and the economy of other sectors. Early attempts at the national level to solve this issue within urban areas have involved the funnelling of the only economic resources available to the cities, with little or no investment in minor urban centres, thus enhancing the existing rift between rural and urban conditions. Moreover, in the coming decades, developing countries, and particularly urban areas, will face issues of water deterioration and environmental pollution as consequences of poor sanitation and water contamination, more than water scarcity (Tortajada et al, 2006). At the present time, human activity has impacted water quality more than climate (OECD 2012).
Water contamination, particularly at the ground water level is the driver for health diseases and has a huge impact in food preparation and in the small agriculture, particularly periurban where fruits and particularly vegetables can possibly be contaminated.

[1] Author’s statistics based on:
National Bureau of Statistics (2014), Basic Demographic and Socio-Economic Profile, Dar es Salaam;
Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD), edited by V. Foster and C. Briceno-Garmendia (2010);
Africa’s Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation, Washington, DC: Agence Française de Developpement and World Bank;
UNICEF and WHO, (2015) pag.3. A Snapshot of Sanitation and Drinking Water in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. A regional perspective based on new data from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation 2015 UPDATE;
UNICEF and WHO, (2015a) pag.9. Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessment [online]. UNICEF. Available from: http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_82419.html [Accessed 30 Aug 2016];
Dill, B., (2010). Public–public Partnerships in Urban Water Provision: The Case of Dar Es Salaam, Journal of International Development 22, no. 5 (2010): 613;
UNDESA - United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, DVD Edition;
Parnell, S., Oldfield, S., (2014). The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South. Routledge;
World Bank (2012) Transformation through Infrastructure: World Bank Group Infrastructure Strategy Update 2012−2015, Washington, DC: World Bank;
OECD (2012) Environmental Outlook to 2050. The consequences of inaction, OECD Publishing;
Tortajada, C., Olli, V., Biswas, A., and Lundqvist, J., (2006) Water Management for Large Cities. Abingdon: Routledge.

[2] Human activities include: population growth, leading to greater need for water in absolute terms (more people=more demand); increasing demand per capita (change in lifestyle, change in diet) and more wastewater to be treated; and economic growth, as growth in agriculture and industry to enhance the economy means more water consumption as well as increasing energy consumption, part of it water-based, and water discharge, which is only partially treated.