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WaterAid and urban and small towns

The global urban population is expanding rapidly. By 2030, two thirds of people are expected to live in towns and cities. Small town populations are expected to double within 15 years, and double again within 30 years.

In developing countries, this growth is typically unplanned, and water, sanitation and hygiene services are not keeping up. Without these basics, the poorest people will increasingly suffer ill-health, missed education and a lack of opportunity.

Getting clean water and sanitation to informal settlements in cities is often complex, and it is no easier in smaller towns. Poor and marginalised people often have to rely on informal water vendors, who charge much more than service providers.

Most urban dwellers rely on on-site sanitation – they use septic tanks and pit latrines (which are often not emptied), or have no choice but to defecate in the open and throw away their waste in plastic bags. Disease outbreaks are increasing in these high-density settlements, with huge consequences for public health and development.

To reach everyone, everywhere by 2030, we must focus on improving access to safe water and toilets in urban areas and small towns.