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'Multi-agency approach needed for universal access to water, sanitation'

Delhi,Business/Economy, Tue, 26 Nov 2013 IANS

New Delhi, Nov 26 (IANS) The urban water and sanitation sector in India needs concerted efforts from the public and private sectors as well as civil society to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, said a report released Tuesday.

The report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) calls for greater emphasis on the urban water and sanitation sector from the central and state governments.

It also emphasizes on sustained deliberations between public agencies, water utilities, private companies and NGOs to find systemic solutions for ensuring access to water and sanitation services for all.

"In India, water supply and sanitation utilities are government bodies which struggle to recover the costs incurred in operation and maintenance, let alone generate revenue for capital investment," the report says.

The report finds that successful public-private partnership (PPP) projects have benefited from a combination of public funding, specialised project expertise and ownership, support from diverse stakeholders, political support, reduced revenue risk, and high degree of interest among private operators for the project.

"Any attempts at reforming urban water management in India must begin with a critical appreciation of the problems and rigorous data to inform public debate," said CEEW head Arunabha Ghosh.

Civil society organisations also have a role in creating awareness among communities, building their capacity (through self-help groups), developing alternative models of service delivery and strengthening local supply chains for water and sanitation services.

The report based on the deliberations with various stakeholders recommends regulatory agencies should focus on the quality of services for the poor.

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