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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 82

More than 14% of our urban population consists of slum dwellers

By Munza Mushtaq - Reporting for Asian Tribune

Colombo, 11 May ( Urban populations in South Asia are expanding rapidly, placing enormous pressure on urban services. This has also resulted in a rapid increase of the urban slum dwellers. A research study conducted by Practical Action/ITDG has revealed that out of the urban population, 14% consist of the urban poor (slum dwellers).

The majority of the urban poor are denied of even the basic hygiene facilities such as clean water, refuse collection, adequate sanitation. As a result, more than others, the urban poor suffer from water- and waterborne diseases.

According to a study conducted by International Food Policy Research Institute, prevalence of Diarrhea among urban poor was greater than the rural poor, in seven of the eleven countries that participated in the study.

In Sri Lanka, according to one participants study on Dengue fever and filarisis, in its report, Practical Action/ITDG has stated that they have become problems on the rise in the cities as a result of poor sanitation.

The urban environment and poverty are closely linked. These links are recognized in the Millennium Development Goals, in particular in the inclusion under Goal 7 (Ensure Environmental Sustainability) of targets to improve the lives of slum dwellers, and improve access to safe drinking water. UN-Habitat currently estimates that 55% of the world's poor now live in urban areas, so without effectively tackling urban poverty (and the urban environment), it is unlikely that any of
the goals will be met

"In Sri Lanka, approaches to urban development have been mostly
sectoral, with government agencies carrying out urban development
plans through line ministries. The intention has been that these
initiatives will be coordinated through local level government
organizations, but the complexity of the governmental system acts as a barrier to this happening in practice. Most often, NGOs and INGOs also tend to adopt sectoral approaches in urban development," the report noted.

Therefore in order to address the gap of environmental degradation and urban poverty, Practical Action with the support from EC (European Commission) is launching a three year project. This project will be implemented in Butwal in Nepal, Faridpur in Bangladesh and Kurunegala and Galle in Sri Lanka. The project will be implemented in selected sites in Kurunegala with 4,000 households on waste collection and recycling, eco-sanitation, and small waste-water treatment facilities.

Project activities in a tsunami-hit area of Galle will mainly focus on waste management, water and sanitation and will be undertaken in such ways that livelihood issues are addressed.

- Asian Tribune -

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