Water in emerging cities

Over the next 40 years, approximately 110,000 new urban residents are added every day to existing and new cities around the world. The majority of urban population growth will not occur in the megacities, but rather in smaller cities and towns particularly in lower and middle income countries. This will mark the second wave of urbanization with just over 50% of humanity living in urban areas today. Currently urban settlements in developing countries are growing five times as fast as those in the developed countries. In Africa the population will soon pass 1 billion people and is expected to reach 2 billion people by 2050 (UN’s report, 2009).
Population growth and urbanization go together. Population growth increases density and creates higher urban agglomeration.  Those emerging cities have immature infrastructures and institutions which offer a huge opportunity to do things differently. Although the developmental stages are often represented as a model of linear progression, emerging cities can follow trajectories across the continuum and may leapfrog some of the stages based on circumstances. The overall aim of this focal area is to explore transitioning pathways by leapfrogging for emerging cities in developing countries without moving linear trajectory path of traditional urban water management.
Specific Objectives
  • Perform a state-of-the-art review of existing urban water systems in developing countries, their evolution and constraints (physical, technical, institutional, financial, political, social); identify responsible national institutions as well relevant intervening international cooperation institutions, regional and intergovernmental organizations, and NGOs.
  • Characterize a representative cross-section of cities regarding size, environmental, social, cultural, institutional and developmental conditions and aspects relevant to urban water management.
  • Develop a set of criteria for identifying the cities that may offer favorable conditions for rapid urban water development and of “leapfrogging” to Integrated Urban Water Management and undertake a pilot project in cooperation with the relevant institutions and governments. Identify those elements that lend themselves to replication in developing countries in other regions of the world.
  • Organize a series of well-designed events in target countries and sub-regions in order to obtain significant responses from stakeholders to the above activities, to impart capacity building sessions – these would need to closely coordinated with the local authorities, regional organizations such AMCOW (African Ministers’ Council on Water), ADB, AFDB, and UN organizations such as UN-Habitat.