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PRESS RELEASE

Unlocking The Many Benefits of Sustainable Urban Sanitation Services in The Region And in Vietnam

January 20, 2014

HANOI, January 20, 2014 – In order to sustain economic growth,  improve public health and reduce environmental impacts, East Asia’s cities need to address significant gaps in their sanitation services, according to two new World Bank reports released today. Substantial financing is needed to manage wastewater and septage that is generated by the urban population. According to some estimates, investment levels of at least US$250 per person are needed annually in the region over the next 15 years.

The first report, entitled East Asia Pacific Region Urban Sanitation Review: Actions Needed, is a regional synthesis of in-depth sector studies in three countries in the East Asia Pacific region – Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. It examines what is holding back the sector and recommends ways in which these countries and others in the region can expand and improve urban sanitation services in an inclusive and sustainable way.

“Worldwide, about 2.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation and 660 million of them live in East Asia and the Pacific Region,” said Charles Feinstein, World Bank Sector Manager for Energy and Water.“Inadequate sanitation takes a tremendous toll on the quality of peoples’ lives, the environment, and the economy.  But the good news is investments in sanitation yield high returns,” he added.

The second report, entitled Vietnam Urban Wastewater Review, focusses on the specific challenges that Vietnam is facing as a result of increasing environmental pollution associated with rapid urbanization. It evaluates the performance of the wastewater sector in Vietnam and makes key recommendations for the consideration of national policy makers, local governments and service providers.

“Over the last 20 years, the Government of Vietnam has made considerable progress on the provision of wastewater services in urban areas, investing nearly $250 million annually in recent years,” said Hung Duy Le, Senior Urban Specialist and Team Leader for the review. “However, keeping pace with rapid urbanization is challenging and it is estimated that $8.3 billion will be required to provide wastewater services to Vietnam’s urban population between now and 2025.”

Poor sanitation has a significant impact on public health in the region including chronic poor health caused by diarrheal disease and an increased risk of disease epidemics such as Cholera. Inadequate sanitation is also the cause of environmental pollution.  The region is rapidly urbanizing and its cities are engines of economic growth. However, each year, poor quality sanitation leads to economic losses of 1.3, 1.5 and 2.3 percent of GDP in Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, respectively.

In order to develop and sustain healthy, clean and prosperous cities, the report makes several recommendations for regional policy makers.

• Developing People-centered Policies: This includes: a) integrating sanitation solutions with city development plans to eliminate water-borne diseases and improve environmental conditions; and b) designing and implementing communication strategies to inform the public about the benefits of sanitation as they are important drivers for change in the sector. 

• Promoting Cost-Effective Technical Solutions: This includes: a) the prioritizing the collection and treatment of wastewater and septage as they are vectors for disease.  Such an approach is needed as in the region, most urban citizens have access to toilets but the human waste that is generated is not properly collected and treated; and b) adopting climate-smart strategies which should ensure that flooding and climate change uncertainties are incorporated in wastewater management plans; and also the use of sanitation by-products that have value such as bio-solids can be re-used for fuel or agricultural purposes.

• Developing Sustainable Institutions for Quality Service: This includes: a) ensuring that the institutional capacity is adequate to develop and implement the City Sanitation Plans which should incorporate the concerns of the poor; and b) integrating urban water management by combining the water and wastewater business as the two sectors are linked and by supporting the development of a robust regulatory mechanism at the local level to ensure quality services.

• Developing Viable Financial Schemes: This includes: a) securing capital for investments; public resources would be needed and as a result an expenditure framework should be in place so that investments are prioritized and the public expenditures are incorporated in fiscal plans of central and local governments; and b) maximizing the use of consumer tariffs to meet operating costs so that dependence on operating subsidies is phased out to ensure that financially viable services are provided to the urban residents.

For a copy of the EAP Urban Sanitation Review, Vietnam Urban Wastewater Review, other supporting country studies that include more detailed country-specific recommendations, a Brief for Policymakers, and an infographic, please visit: www.worldbank.org/eap/urbansanitationreview