Book cover: Transitioning to Clean Water and Sanitation
Open Access Edited Book

Transitioning to Clean Water and Sanitation

Published: December 2021
Pages: 102
ISBN 978-3-03897-774-2 (hardback); ISBN 978-3-03897-775-9 (PDF)
This book is part of the book series: Transitioning to Sustainability
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Transitioning is a key concept for innovative management in several domains, particularly the challenges emerging from climate change. Transitioning to Clean Water and Sanitation will, thus, contribute to an understanding of how transitions are underway for adapting water and sanitation systems to the projected impacts of climate change, with the aim of ensuring clean water, improved sanitation and proper hygiene conditions for a better protection of health in all parts of the world.


The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5 °C states that climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with a global warming of 1.5°C and to increase further to 2°C. In addition to water- and food-borne diseases, some vector-borne diseases (e.g., malaria and dengue fever) will become more frequent, including potential shifts in their geographical range. Climate change affects health through a range of different pathways amongst which water and sanitation play a major role in disease transmission.


The increase of temperature and precipitation in many places in the world affect the transport and dissemination of infectious agents and the growth as well as survival of pathogens and vectors, particularly through water and sanitation systems. Therefore, any development perspective for the sustainable management of water and sanitation systems can no longer ignore the projected impacts of climate change in order to provide innovative solutions and grant successful management. Nor can we ignore the socio-political dimensions entailed therein and the persisting inequalities in the provision of clean water and sanitation across the globe in urban as well as rural areas. Thereby, water may both be the target and the source of conflict. This volume draws on a multi-disciplinary perspective to lay bare the possibilities and challenges for granting access to clean and safe water infrastructures. 

Transitioning to Clean Water and Sanitation is part of MDPI's new Open Access book series Transitioning to SustainabilityWith this series, MDPI pursues environmentally and socially relevant research which contributes to efforts toward a sustainable world. Transitioning to Sustainability aims to add to the conversation about regional and global sustainable development according to the 17 SDGs. The book series is intended to reach beyond disciplinary, even academic boundaries. 


water; sanitation; water rights; health; sustainable water


Published with the generous support of the Swiss National Science Foundation.


  • Preface to Transitioning to Clean Water and Sanitation
    The Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) is dedicated to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and this illustrates the vital role of the sector for a brighter future. The COVID-19 pandemics has further exacerbated the challenges to achieve the SDGs and is compounding with the climate change already important effects on all natural and human systems. The latest report of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations’ Children and Women Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, released in 2021, highlights that achieving SDG WASH targets by 2030 will require a quadrupling of current rates of progress. To get the needed level of action to achieve the goals requires that WASH sector undertakes an effective transition and transformation. This special book on Transitioning to Clean Water and Sanitation presents selected contributing papers on transitioning and transformation in situations and cases from Europe (Spain), Oceania (Australia), Africa (Zambia) and Asia (Nepal). The case studies go through several dimensions that include the challenges in the use of non-conventional water resources, the control of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions by water utilities, the management of climate change effects on water and sanitation systems and the importance of justice systems in the frame of water contamination by mining industries.
  • Water Exchange and Wastewater Reuse to Achieve SDG 6: Learning from Agriculture and Urban-Tourism Coexistence in Benidorm (Spain)
    Sustainable Development Goal 6 seeks to address the increasing demand for water resources in urban areas struggling with inadequate water quality and supply. This chapter go deeper into how targets 6.3 (Improve water quality, wastewater and safe reuse), 6.4 (Increase water-use efficiency and ensure freshwater supplies), 6.5 (Integrated Water Resources Management), and 6.b (Participation in water and sanitation management) could be combined and duly addressed by promoting water exchange and wastewater reuse among agricultural and urban-tourism water uses. Key driving factors and social learnings from Benidorm (South-Eastern Spain) are presented in order to highlight expected benefits and limited barriers when addressing water scarcity risk in water stressed regions. Taking into account that stakeholders’ involvement and good water governance are essential for implementing SDG 6, focus has been on two key stakeholders: the Marina Baja Water Consortium (assuming urban and tourism water demand) and the Canal Bajo del Algar irrigators’ community (assuming agricultural water demand). Discursive analysis has been conducted through semi-structured interviews to both key stakeholders. Results highlighted how water management, water quality, and water charging are the three main issues to be addressed when promoting water exchange and non-conventional water resources between agricultural and urban-tourist activities. Learnings could be used to customize interventions at regional scale when promoting water exchange between confronted water uses in water scarcity regions.
  • Transitioning to SDG 6: Climate Change Influence on Clean Water and Sanitation in Nepal
    Climate change is among the critical global challenges of the twenty-first century. In this context, Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) appears ambitious for water and sanitation. Transitioning to SDGs is coupled with various factors that may prevent the achievement of these goals. This chapter discusses the various impacts of climate change on water and sanitation with evidence from a developing country, Nepal. Nepal being one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of climate change, where almost every sector, including water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), is impacted by climate change. The impact on the WASH sector is evident either in the form of infrastructural damages or reduced water quantity or quality at the source leading to compromised hygiene. Several climate change adaptation practices have been adopted to reduce the impact of climate change on water supply and sanitation, but those locally adapted practices are not necessarily resilient. Considerations of climate-resilient development in the WASH sector are vital to successfully attain SDG 6 while acting on the transition phase of SDGs.
  • Transitioning to Low-carbon Drinking Water and Sanitation Services: An Assessment of Emission and Real Water Losses Efficiency of Water Utilities
    Drinking water and sanitation services are vulnerable to the adverse climate impacts such as persistent low rainfall, extreme droughts and floods. The sector also contributes to climate change by its considerable emissions footprint. Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in order to tackle climate change have put a spotlight on the environmental efficiency of water utility and sanitation operations. A substantial energy input is used in providing drinking water and sanitation services, particularly, water supply augmentation, water and sewage treatment and pumping. In many countries, the traditional water supplies have been under pressure due to increased drought conditions and climate variability raising water security concerns. Climate-independent water supply options such as desalinisation have exacerbated the energy use in recent times. This chapter presents an approach to internalise undesirable outputs, namely GHGs and real water losses in the assessment of productivity performance of water utilities. The approach extends the conventional productivity assessment to derive an environmentally sustainable measure of utility performance. Using time-series data for the Australian drinking water and sanitation sector, the chapter analyses environmentally-sensitive productivity, which accounts for undesirable outputs. Findings indicate that environmentally adjusted productivity growth of the sector has improved in cumulative terms. However, the environmentally adjusted productivity growth trend has shown a declining trajectory. The conventional productivity assessment overstated the productivity growth compared to environmentally adjusted productivity growth. Incorporating undesirable outputs into performance evaluation frameworks enables environmentally sustainable management of drinking water and sanitation systems and advancing sustainable development goals.
  • The Challenge of Enforcing the Right to Water: The Case of Vedanta PLC Mining Conglomerate in Zambia
    The right to water is now widely recognized as a human right both under the United Nations human rights system as well as the African regional human rights system. As a binding human right, states are under a duty to ensure their people enjoy the right to water. This chapter is a case comment. It comments on the challenge of enforcing the right to water of Zambian communities living in the vicinity of the mine owned by Vedanta PLC in Zambia. The chapter proceeds by first grounding the right to water in international human rights law, that is, both the United Nations human rights system and the African regional human rights system. It then proceeds by focusing on the subject of the case review, that is, the cases which affected communities brought to the courts to vindicate their right to water. The court cases are based on the incessant pollution of the river from which the community drew water for drinking and domestic use by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a Zambian mining company in which Vedanta PLC has a controlling stake. The review of court cases demonstrates in miniature form the practical and legal challenges poor people face in trying to have their right to water enforced. This is compounded when the perpetrator is a mining conglomerate with strong influence on the political elite.

Review Mode

Each chapter in this edited book has been reviewed by the editor/s as well as an external expert who reviewed each chapter of the book and provided an overall review. The opinions expressed in the chapters do not reflect the view of the publisher.

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