Urban Sanitation Technologies as International Power Structures (U-STASIS)
In urban areas, access to improved sanitation is 40% for low-income economies and 67% for lower middle-income economies. The current globally dominant design principle for Urban Sanitation Infrastructure (USI) is built around large-scale sewage networks connected to centralized treatment plants, an approach that only works where large quantities of water are available, public budgets can afford massive sunk investments, and stable institutions allow for long planning horizons and reliable governance. Yet, these requirements are not met in places where the increase in sanitation coverage is particularly slow, as is the case for fast growing urban areas in Asia and Africa. However, more recent innovations which promise to deliver on these challenges adapt sanitation service chain approaches as a planning paradigm to account for urban complexity. Despite various efforts, a range of technological and planning innovations have failed to grow out of their niche so far. The U-STASIS research project aims to explain the persistence of centralized USI from an international political-economy perspective to deepen the understanding of the causes for the ongoing sanitation crisis. To this end, the project will operationalize the international political economy (IPE) theory of structural power for basic infrastructure provision. The analysis will focus on the “Second Water Sector Support Project” funded by the World Bank funded in Tanzania, the “Municipal Water Supply and Sanitation Project” and “Dhaka Sanitation Improvement Project” in Bangladesh, funded by the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The expected results will provide new entry points for overcoming the deadlock and advancing the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 and the more rapid expansion of inclusive urban sanitation coverage.