During the Millennium Development Goal initiative, substantial gains were made in the extension of water supply and sanitation services to urban households in developing countries. Some 95 percent of urban dwellers in low- and middle-income countries now have access to “improved” water sources; however, water quality, service reliability, and affordability remain elusive, particularly for poor households. Three-quarters of those living in cities of the developing world have access to adequate sanitation facilities; at the same time, it is estimated that some 80 percent of urban wastewater flows are discharged to the environment without treatment. Continued rapid growth of many developing-country cities threatens to keep the focus for planning and policy on simple coverage metrics, at the expense of service quality and environmental health considerations. In this seminar, Jenna Davis will review trends in urban water supply and sanitation service provision in developing regions. Drawing on her group’s work in Haiti, Bangladesh, and Mozambique, Davis will also present several cases of innovation—including technologies, service-delivery systems, and governance approaches—with the potential to improve access to, and quality of, water and sanitation services for low-income urban households.
Jenna Davis is an Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering & Science, and the Higgins-Magid Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute of the Environment, both of Stanford University. With a background in public health, infrastructure planning, and environmental engineering, she is the faculty lead of Stanford’s Program on Water, Health & Development. Over the past 20 years Prof. Davis has carried out applied research on water supply and sanitation services in more than a dozen developing countries, including most recently Kenya, Bangladesh, and Mozambique. Her research spans scales from the household to the region, and addresses topics ranging from assessing effective demand for service improvements to developing and testing new technologies and service models. Prof. Davis has served on the UN Millennium Development Goal Task Force for Water & Sanitation, the Technical Committee of the Global Water Partnership, and the UN-sponsored working group developing post-2015 targets for global sanitation monitoring.