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Watering the city
By 2030, urban populations will be twice the size of rural populations
An increasing number of places which can be defined as 'mega-cities' are appearing in the developing world. By 2000, 23 cities in the world contain over ten million people each. Eighteen of these mega-cities are in the developing world.

But these urban giants are struggling to supply their residents with the most basic requirement for health and happiness - water. How can increasing demands for water from the mega-city inhabitants be met when water sources are beginning to run dry?

In the four part series Watering the City, Alun Lewis and Ali Ayres explore the critical situation facing many city governments.

 Listen to programme one

Rainwater harvesting

Every day thousands of families around the world are abandoning their rural homes to head for the city in search of employment and economic prosperity. Many cities are growing so rapidly they are struggling to provide enough clean water for people to drink.

In the first part of Watering the City, Alun Lewis explores the phenomenon of urban drought and what is being done to combat it - rainwater harvesting for example. He begins in the Indian city of Chennai.

 Listen to programme two

Refilling aquifers

In part two of the series Watering the City, Alun Lewis learns about the Mexico City Water Project, an ambitious plan to help solve the water shortage currently faced by Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world.

 Listen to programme three

Affordable sanitation systems

Millions of children under the age of five die every year as a result of acute diarrhoea. They catch the diseases that cause this condition because they drink contaminated water.

In the third programme of Watering the City, Alun Lewis discovers that the situation is most serious in the rapidly expanding cities of the developing world. He assesses some of the latest developments in sanitation that could save lives. His investigation begins in Uganda's capital city, Kampala.

 Listen to programme four

Desalination and other solutions

Sixty percent of the world's major cities are situated on the coast. Many of them are suffering from severe water shortages, so should they be turning to technology to remove salt from the sea?

In the final part of the BBC World Service series Watering the City, Alun Lewis discusses the option of desalination and other technologies that promise to deliver extra water supplies - for a price.

Watering the City, was broadcast on BBC World Service during May, 2003. The series is a Pier Production for BBC World Service.

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