East Wahdat Upgrade/ Improvement of Local Health: Water Supply and Public Sanitation

From a technical point of view, the most urgent problem to be solved in a slum area is usually the water supply and the sanitation problem, which also applies to the East Wahdat area. Fresh water supply and public sanitation has many benefits, but the most important of all was its contribution to a healthy living community and environment. Prior to the implementation of the upgrading programme, there was a lack of adequate sanitation in the area. Though a few main sewers existed adjacent to the squatter area, few could obtain connections due to legal reasons. Therefore, a widespread use of cesspools or pit latrines existed, which had no sanitation at all (World Bank, 1980). On the other hand, residents got their water supply from the water delivery truck everyday, which also caused a lot of inconvenience. This in turns created a lot of health problem in the area of East Wahdat. The lack of fresh water supply and sanitation encouraged the accumulation of disease and germs, which made East Wahdat become one of the poorest living environment in Amman before the 1980s in terms of health. The living condition was even much worse than that within the UNRWA refugee camp due to the temporary construction material used. The infant mortality rates were 68%, which was the highest among the whole country (Ababsa, 2010).

Therefore, providing fresh water supply and public sanitation became one of the most important agenda in the East Wahdat Upgrading Programme. In consistence with the ‘incremental’ building concept, each family was provided with a sanitary core, serviced with inlet tap water and outlet sewage pipe connected to the sewage system. It was important to take note that, beyond the individual sanitary core, a greater network of water supply and sewage system was actually constructed by the government to accommodate the basic needs of the residents living in the area. It was through the construction of these networks that the individual sanitary core worked.

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Fig.1 Solid lines alone the footpath indicate the network of sewerage system

The construction of the water supply and sewerage system was in-line with the design principles, where minimum intervention was to be induced on the existing residence. By putting all the pipe networks before the re-paving of the existing streets and paths, the adverse effect on residents was significantly minimized. Meanwhile, ensuring all the plots could have access to the newly constructed network systems. One challenge of the planning and construction of the pipe networks was that, the topography of the site was rugged, which discouraged the flow of a smooth drainage network. Fortunately, the generally topography of the site was higher from the West and lower in the East, which facilitates the water from flowing down from the West towards the East.

The introduction of these network of systems significantly improved the living condition of the local area, and thus the health of the residents. The infant mortality rate right after the implementation of the programme was 55%, which was a 13% reduction. Though the improvement of local health was arguably not only due to the improvement of fresh water supply and sanitation, it could be accounted as one of the major contribution (Leslie, 1992).

From the historic precedence of Haussmann’s ‘Plan of Paris’, it was worthwhile to note that improving public sanitation was also in one of his three agendas in upgrading Paris. However, his plan focused more on the creation of a central boulevard with two rolls of buildings with uniform façades on the two sides, while neglecting the demolish of existing urban fabric on its way. The results was that slums still exists, only that they were hidden by the beautiful façade, and that the health problem had not actually been alleviate significantly. In contrast, the plan of East Wahdat Upgrade did consider keeping the existing urban fabric, while promoting access of water supply and sanitation to every family, instead of creating a beautiful street fronts. Therefore, the plan is more successful in improving the local health.

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Fig.2 The network of drainage system are hidden below the new paving of street

Reference:

Ababsa, Myriam. 2010. “The Evolution of Upgrading Policies in Amman Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development.” Amman Jordanie.

Giedion, Sigfried. 1947. Space, Time and Architecture. The Growth of a New Tradition. Harvard University Press

Leslie, Jolyon. 1992. 1992 Technical Review Summary: East Wahdat Upgrading Programme. Amman: Urban Development Department.

World Bank, Jordan Urban Renewal Project Report, 1980

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