Publication: The Future of Water in African Cities : Why Waste Water? Integrating Urban Planning and Water Management in Sub-Saharan Africa, Background Report

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Bloch, Robin
This paper is one of a series of analytical studies commissioned by the World Bank's Africa Region and Water Anchor which are intended to identify and address the future challenges of urban water supply, sanitation and flood management in Sub-Saharan Africa's (SSA) cities and towns. Following the terms of reference for the assignment, and as indicated by its title, the paper is directed at understanding and describing the linkages and interdependencies between water management and water security on the one hand, and urbanization, urban planning and development on the other. The paper is structured in six sections. Section one presents an overview of urbanization trends in SSA. This is followed by a discussion in Section two of what can be seen as the corollary of the unprecedented urban population growth now occurring and projected for SSA, large-scale urban expansion, involving potentially massive increases in urban land cover. This expansion has implications, also discussed in section two, for the internal structuring of African cities and towns, and for the planning and development of the overall urban form which is resulting, as well as for the environmental risks cities and towns face now and into the future. This 'poor urban planning' in the present-day has its roots in the inherited practices of colonial-era planning theories and practices, which are described in section three. These still resonate, as discussed in section four, which discusses key constituent aspects of contemporary planning systems in Africa, as illustrated by a number of case studies. In section five, the focus shifts to the current institutional experience with urban water management, again with a number of good practice cases provided. The author then turn in the concluding section seven to the key concern of this issues paper: that of integrating urban planning and water management as the Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) approach emerges- or, perhaps to put it better, of finding ways in which such integration can promote the emergence of IUWM. This is a necessary but difficult task, complicated by the reality that, as seen in the quote above, IUWM requires quite considerable coordination within the water sector alone. Moreover, our preceding analysis demonstrates, and this is the core argument of this paper, that seen from the side of the overall urban planning system, the deficiencies, decline and the delegitimizing of the 'traditional' planning system and practices in SSA, and the theory which underpins them, along with the failure to modernize them in a consistent fashion, has led, if anything, to greater fragmentation in the planning and managing of urban development. Land use planning and infrastructure (and other sector) planning, including water, typically occur in an uncoordinated fashion. This makes planning adequately for large-scale urban growth and expansion that much more difficult.
Bloch, Robin. 2012. The Future of Water in African Cities : Why Waste Water? Integrating Urban Planning and Water Management in Sub-Saharan Africa, Background Report. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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