Assignment nameDevelopment of an urban WASH strategy and action plan for UNICEF Pakistan.

Project duration: February 2016 – November 2016

Funder: UNICEF Pakistan

The challenge

As a response to increasing urbanisation, UNICEF has incorporated urban water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) into its Global WASH Strategy 2016-30, so that it can reach the most vulnerable children wherever they are.

Pakistan is expected to have 15 cities with populations of over one million people within the next 15 years, and by 2030 it is estimated that Karachi and Lahore’s populations will reach approximately 28 and 15 million respectively. Urban access to improved water and sanitation is currently estimated at 94% and 83% respectively. However these figures do not reflect the significant gap in access to quality water and sanitation services between higher and lower-income areas of the cities, or the health, economic and environmental impacts this causes.

Our task was to develop an urban programming strategy for WASH for the medium to long term (five to ten years) for UNICEF Pakistan.

WSUP approach

The Urban WASH Strategy built upon a literature review of UNICEF’s current programmes and strategies in urban WASH in Pakistan, in South Asia and globally. Also an analysis of the current urban and WASH context in Pakistan, and stakeholder consultations and field visits.

The Strategy analyses UNICEF’s comparative advantages in urban WASH. For example where UNICEF can bring additional value compared to other stakeholders, such as local authorities and utilities, international finance institutions, bilateral donors and NGOs.

Combined with an action plan, the Strategy aims to create a coherent enabling environment by which six high-level strategy components can be enacted. The Strategic Plan is firmly centred on UNICEF’s identified comparative advantages in urban WASH and is in line with its 2014 Theory of Change. The enabling environment is expressed through 21 UNICEF activities, the promotion of which will contribute to achieving the overall strategy components.


The Strategy and action plan include necessary radical approaches alongside core advocacy and knowledge management activities. The desired outcome is to assist Pakistan to deliver financially and environmentally sustainable urban water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as solid waste management. This will include service delivery to all sectors of society, but with a special focus on low-income residents who often represent a large proportion of city dwellers.

The enabling activities form the overarching framework for UNICEF to support, promote and fund, wherever possible. This provides the necessary holistic approach to the highly complex issues relevant to urban WASH and solid waste.

Through the development of the Strategy and action plan, UNICEF Pakistan has been recognised as being in a stronger position to understand and respond to the urban WASH and waste context in Pakistan, and to engage more comprehensively with international financial institutions in addressing these issues.