The World is facing immense challenges arising from rapid population growth and intense urbanization. In Asia, about 45% of the population now live in towns and cities, and by 2030 it is estimated that this will reach 60%. Population densities in Asian cities are much higher than other parts of the world, and the predominance of poverty in urban slums is ubiquitous throughout the region.
Against this backdrop, the lack of wastewater management continues to be a huge challenge. Conventional centralised approaches to wastewater management have largely failed to address the wastewater disposal needs of poor communities due to high capital investment, poor operation and maintenance or low connection rates. As a result, many urban dwellers remain unserved with basic sanitation and the vast majority of wastewater and septage is discharged without any form of treatment into rivers and water bodies, seriously polluting water resources and causing a diversity of economic impacts.
As a result of this crisis, demand for affordable but effective wastewater management systems is increasing and there is a growing body of science and practice which demonstrates the opportunities for implementing wastewater management systems based on a decentralised approach. The decentralised approach – referred to as DEWATS – has been demonstrated to be a cost-effective and efficient way of wastewater treatment to improve environmental health conditions as well as providing opportunities for re-use and resource recovery. Decentralised approaches also offer increased opportunities for local stakeholder participation in planning and decision-making.
This Conference will examine the decentralised approaches, from a technical and engineering perspective, but also taking into consideration the social, institutional and financial aspects that determine the success of these technologies. The Conference is the third of a series to be organized by IWA in the Asia-Pacific, following on from the ‘Sanitation Options’ Conference in Hanoi in 2008 and the ‘DEWATS in Developing Countries’ Conference in Surabaya in 2010. This third conference in Manila will develop the DEWATS theme on a number of specific topics arising from the Surabaya conference.