Villamontes, for example, shares a sanitary landfill with a smaller neighbouring municipality, while Cliza is developing a shared solid waste management service with 16 other small municipalities. Both towns are now covering 80 per cent of their urban populations with quality sanitation services. Rural residents also use the organic waste from the town for fertilising their crops and use treated wastewater for irrigation during the dry season.

Fostering rural-urban linkages through a holistic agenda

It is not just the population growth of towns that is emphasised by policy-makers and theorists, but also their economic importance. Policy-makers emphasise towns as being ‘crucial’ to development, and as hubs for job creation, innovation and growth. Urbanisation, under the right circumstances, is the future driver of growth and development in emerging economies. The era of the urban age has its winners and losers, however. If not strategically managed and planned inclusively, urban development can lead to inequality both within the same town and between different towns at the national, regional and global level.