Working Paper
Water and Third World Cities

The Expanding Puzzle

Water and food scarcity are among the major problems that mankind faces today and will increasingly face in the coming decades. They are likely to have ecological effects on a global scale, are probably sources of social and political instability, and will create humanitarian disasters.Water and land resource problems are growing rapidly. As Frederiksen (1996) points out: Perhaps the most important constraint on solving the water resources crisis is time. There is very little time to do all that needs to be done to accommodate the 1 billion new people to be born in the next 10 years. Very few actions of the magnitude needed can be completed in this period. What these actions and what their magnitude should be, is an urgent and important matter of dispute.This paper discusses the water problems induced by urbanization and cities of the third world in particular. First, the causes, history, present state, and future outlook of the global urbanization development are presented with a summary of the global freshwater situation and infrastructure issues. Then, possible solutions are discussed. Finally, the paper highlights challenges to the water sector with respect to the demand for increased food production, alternative solutions to coping with the urban water pollution problems, suggestions for water resources management principles, and human resources development issues.