Bridging SDGs 6 and 11: three principles to accelerate city-wide progress


Urbanisation has created new opportunities, but its scale and fast pace have brought development challenges of unprecedented magnitude. Such is the case for Indonesian cities as authorities endeavour to provide universal access to sanitation and hygiene services. In this blog, SNV’s Maria Carreiro introduces a three-principle checklist to accelerate progress in SDGs 6 and 11.

Bandar Lampung, capital of Lampung province in the southern tip of Sumatra, Indonesia is a striking example of quick urbanisation opportunities and challenges. Pulverised by the 1883 Krakatoa eruption, and the 40 meter tsunami waves that followed, 100 years later the city had grown to 285,000 inhabitants. Today, Bandar Lampung is home to almost 1.2 million people. This number is expected to double by 2030, reaching the 2.4 million figure.

Bandar Lampung today

Today, Bandar Lampung hosts all Government services, and booming businesses and industries. In the last 15 years, poverty rate in Bandar Lampung had fallen by 70%.

But urban infrastructure and public services have struggled to keep up: 53% of the city’s neighbourhoods are categorised as slums that continuously expand to accommodate newcomers, often lacking residency permits and safe tenancy. With no sewerage system in place, the city relies on on-site systems (e.g., pit latrines, septic tanks, etc.) that are often sub-standard and/or inadequately managed. Some 12,500 families do not have access to a toilet at all. An estimated 98% of human waste generated ends up untreated in the living environment, contaminating soils, rivers and water ways, and placing the population’s wellbeing at risk. (View this short video production by Environmental Studies students from the University of Lampung. The video shows solid waste and human excreta pollution in the rivers around Kaliawi in Bandar Lampung, and proposes solutions on how to keep the rivers clean)__.

The WASH SDG programme

The WASH SDG programme, funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is being implemented by SNV in partnership with the WASH Alliance International and Plan Nederland. Building on Indonesia’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), SNV helps strengthen capacity, performance and accountability of Bandar Lampung’s authorities towards the delivery of SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities). Special attention is given to population growth and climate change.

SNV is supporting city authorities in two ways:

  • to establish safely managed, equitable and adequate sanitation and hygiene services, paying particular attention to women and people in vulnerable situations; and

  • to strengthen the capacity of service delivery systems to manage the risk of human-made and natural disasters.

Three-principle checklist

Three principles are essential to make good headway in SDGs 6 and 11. Together they form a basis for the realisation of universal access to adequate, equitable and climate change-responsive sanitation and hygiene services. Once cities are able to consistently deliver these services to all – inclusiveness, resilience and sustainability will truly be upheld.

Using a city-wide approach. Achievement of SDG 6 and 11 targets requires a comprehensive perspective of the city. Targeted interventions for slum areas or low-income groups alone, for instance, do not produce meaningful public health gains as environmental pollution can be generated in multiple parts of the city, including in better-off areas. Realising improved sanitation and hygiene conditions is far more effective when services and new social norms are promoted and adopted city wide.

Addressing the entire sanitation chain. Whilst access to toilets is one step to achieve safely managed sanitation, it is not the last. Ultimately there are no positive public health outcomes if households have toilets that discharge directly into the nearest drains, or if emptying services dump sludge in the water streams. Acknowledging the inter-connectedness of the different elements of the sanitation chain is critical to establish efficient and effective management systems. Such systems help attract private sector investments and unleash the potential of related business opportunities.

Integrating gender, social inclusion and climate vulnerability data. Both SDGs emphasise that the specific needs of women and other vulnerable groups must be taken into account, and that they should be in the frontline of protection from water-related disasters. However, because cities like Bandar Lampung often lack pertinent information, they struggle to make more equitable and environmentally-sensible decisions. Mapping areas vulnerable to climate change, disaggregating sanitation data based on wealth quintiles, gender and abilities, and identifying the needs and preferences of vulnerable groups are critical steps to take. Such types of information highlight dynamics and situations often obscured in conventional data collection processes. Ultimately they support planning and investment decisions that effectively recognise and work for everyone.