Giving Compass' Take:

• Neil Jeffery explains how utilities provide the best option for comprehensive, safe water access in urban communities. 

• How can funders work to expand access to safe and reliable water? What does water access look like in your community? 

• Learn about the state of global water supply and access

There’s nothing more important to human life than clean, reliable water. It’s the first, and most basic of needs, something we cannot live without for more than a few days. Considering its importance, humanity fails to manage this most precious resource well.

In cities leakages, contamination, and wasteful usage are common. This reduces the amount of water available, and of course it’s the vulnerable who will go without. This World Water Day focuses on tackling the water crisis by addressing the reasons so many people are being left behind.

Where WSUP works, entire communities miss out on the benefits of urbanization, because of where they live. Take Nairobi, where the economy is booming, yet around half of its four million inhabitants see little benefit, trapped in a vicious cycle of poor housing, job insecurity, and a daily struggle to find safe water to drink.

As the population of developing countries shifts away from rural and towards cities, a twin-track version of urbanization has emerged, with impressive economic growth numbers masking the squalor of daily life in ramshackle slums. Lack of safe water in these communities underpins urban inequality. But what’s the fix?

Utilities are often seen as the reason why water access is not universal, because they have failed to grow their networks in line with the expanded urban areas which they represent. Under this logic, communities should take more ownership of their water needs, short-cutting struggling citywide systems. We take a different view.

Utilities are the solution to comprehensive, safe water access in cities. Water, as a valuable and finite resource, needs to be managed by a single entity which has responsibility for the entire system, from source to settlement.

Read the full article about comprehensive, safe water access in cities by Neil Jeffery at Skoll Foundation.