Every day, the population of cities and towns around the world grows by about 200,000 people.

People are moving to cities in search of better jobs and a higher quality of life, often driven from rural areas by poverty and climate change.

But urban authorities are unable to cope with this influx. Already, hundreds of millions of city-dwellers lack access to the most basic of human rights: clean water, and safe sanitation.

Cities cannot be sustainable or inclusive without these basic services being universally available, no matter where they live or how much they earn.

It is vital to help city authorities extend citywide services that can meet the needs not just of the current residents, but of the population growth that is expected over coming decades.

Integrated slum upgrading

Every month, every year, unplanned urban settlements get larger, and more complex. The sheer numbers of people living close together in poorly planned communities can make improving the quality of life extremely difficult. Integrating water, sanitation and hygiene with wider slum development can improve the overall impact and delivery of WASH services.

November 2021: Integrate with wider city resilience: collaboration with other areas is crucial

May 2021: The building blocks for successful citywide sanitation systems

Sanitation for crowded urban settlements

Poor sanitation in under-served communities makes an entire city sick, contaminating rivers, agriculture and water supplies. In crowded communities, high-quality shared facilities are often a more realistic option than household toilets. And where sewers are not possible, waste needs to be collected and treated using other means.

February 2022: A round-up of SWEEP: WSUP’s solution to tackle Bangladesh’s sanitation challenge

November 2021: Safely managed onsite sanitation: a life changer for low-income communities


Extending water networks into low-income communities

The lack of piped, treated water in informal settlements means residents have to queue for hours to buy potentially unsafe water from an illegal water vendor or a local hand-dug well. By building the capacity of utilities to extend water services into all parts of a city, we can improve people’s health, free up their time, and enable them to work or go to school.

January 2022: Upgrading the importance of low-income customers in Ghana’s water sector

October 2021: Our future is at hand: strengthening hygiene and increasing access to WASH  in Madagascar

Tackling the spread of Covid-19

People living in crowded, urban communities without access to continuous water supply and good hygiene are most at risk from the Covid-19 pandemic. We need to support city authorities to help them tackle this crisis.

July 2021: Building urban resilience in the face of Covid-19: new video shows our hygiene work in Ghana and Kenya

Read more about our Covid-19 response here

Reducing the environmental impact of cities

Water is fundamental to life on our planet. As the demand for water increases, and climate change places stress on water availability, it has never been more important to manage water systems effectively.

March 2022: Time to give groundwater a little respect

October 2021: The missing link in urban climate adaptation