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Urbanization and the Rural and Urban Provision of Water and Sanitation

Susanna Wolf, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

In most developing countries there is a huge gap in the delivery of water and sanitation between rural and urban areas. This better access to services is one of the drivers of urbanization. But at the same time urbanization puts a heavy strain on service delivery in urban areas. In addition, technological changes and decentralization should favor rural water and sanitation. Traditionally urban areas were favored over rural ones. In the paper cross-country panel regressions are used to compare factors that determine access to water and sanitation in rural versus urban areas. Both rural and urban access to water and sanitation have a positive association with population density, whereas they have a mostly negative relationship with urbanization, whereas population growth does not seem to have much effect. The paper concludes with policy advice on how to improve access to water and sanitation and thus to make progress towards the MDGs.

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Presented in Session 61: Consequences of rapid urbanization