A smart strategy for developing countries

By Dr. Sahim Tekeli

Associate Director, Arup

Based on my experiences in Turkey, I will highlight some examples which may trigger expansion of the UN Millennium Development Goals in developing countries out to rural settlements.

*Greater Municipality (GM) Model

Initially, we tackled 2 greater municipalities (İzmir and Bursa), with target populations varying from 2 to 5 million. The GM included all the core district municipalities. Investment programs included water supply, sewerage and storm drainage networks, treatment plants and pump stations, starting with master plans and feasibilities, preparation of tender documents and performing the tenders for international consultants and contractors; all co-funded with donors, like IBRD and EIB. Typically, international specifications and FIDIC contracts were used. To simplify the system operations,   infrastructure owners preferred collection of wastewaters at one or maybe two central treatment plants, in spite of long trunks, huge pumping stations and difficult site selections. These were rationalized then, with lack of qualified staffing and appropriate control technologies. Nowadays, decentralised plants equipped with smart control technologies, offer prospects for smaller plants, shorter networks, cheaper constructions and operations and possibly reuse of the treated effluents.

* Expansion of GM Model

The GM experience was started in early 1980’s, with a new corporate utility (CU) in the greater municipality. Institutional development accompanied the investments, developing the organizations and training the human resources for financial, operational and management capabilities. Later in 2005, seeing that the GM model was working, the Government expanded the original 4 GMs to 16 cities, all with populations above the 750 000 threshold. Later the Model evolved further: the GM boundaries were extended to include the peripheral town municipalities, with the central CU overtaking all water and sewerage operations and investments.  Among the 16 GMs, İstanbul and neighbouring Kocaeli (İzmit) were broadened to their full provincial boundaries. Following March 2014 Municipal Elections, a new stage was introduced, increasing the provincial GMs to 29. Closer districts were combined and the outlying villages were converted to satellite districts, all to be served by the CU. Hence, the CU inherited all settlements, varying from single farms to villages, to satellite municipalities and the core GM districts. Investments for the first stage GM expansions had been ongoing, when the second stage responsibilities were added. Especially the new CUs are hectically recruiting staff and starting new master plan and feasibility studies for the added municipalities, and initiating emergency investments where needed.   Thus, both human and financial resources are really scarce.

* EU Journey

These organizational changes coincided with Turkey’s candidacy to the EU. Considering the limited EU funding assistance, meeting the regulatory targets appear too ambitious for the near future. However, another jumping step awaiting Turkey is when and how to initiate transformation from provincial to basin levels.


Many rural settlements were added to the CU boundaries, requiring water and sewerage services. Since the related regulatory ministries’ target compliance with the corresponding EU Regulations, the CUs are reluctant about packaged treatment performances and prefer central conventional plants. Sewerage from rural settlements may require many pumping stations over irregular topographies, creating a contradictory situation: as the number of treatment plants decrease, pump stations multiply. Further complications arise due to poor quality of design data (populations, consumptions, precipitations, etc.), economic design periods, and capacity of pump stations and size of transmission lines. Staging of capacities may require compromises which contradict the usual practices. Appropriate practices need to be tailored with corresponding regulatory amendments, so transitional improvements are encouraged.

To conclude

I hope the account above can trigger implementation of more sustainable infrastructures at more affordable costs to encourage rural settlements.

Biography – Dr. Sahim Tekeli

Following a BSCE in İstanbul-Turkey, I earned my MS and PHD degrees at University of Illinois, USA, in 1978. I taught in Austin, Texas, in İstanbul and in Jordan. After a 9 year teaching career, I accepted a position to lead a major IBRD funded Project at İzmir Utility. In 2 years, because Project implementation stopped due to inadequate local funding, I left my positions of Project Management and Utility Board Membership. Then I joined an international consultant (Hyder-UK) designing the Izmir Motorway. While at the Motorway, I accepted an invitation to consult/manage another IBRD Project, starting at Bursa Greater Municipality. Project included solid waste, water and sewerage investments. We completed this Project in 9 years. During this period, we managed to obtain a follow-up loan from EIB for Bursa’s remaining investments. Later in 2004, I moved to Ankara as the water leader at a major local consultant, Yuksel Proje. With another change in 2007, I became the ARUP Ankara Representative. Since May 2012, I have moved back to Bursa to manage an Arup and Temelsu JV’s design, tendering and supervision teams for the Bursa Utility under a second EIB Loan for expansion of the sewerage systems. We have 4 ongoing contracts to be completed till May 2017.