Blog by Dr Alison Parker, a Lecturer in the Cranfield Water Science Institute. Cranfield is a Member of WSUP.

This week Cranfield University is receiving the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of our 25 years of education and research on water and sanitation for developing countries. WSUP has been alongside Cranfield on that journey for the last 10 years and has been a key part of the success we are celebrating this week.

My colleague Dr Richard Franceys, a Senior Lecturer at Cranfield, had a vision for how water utilities should be serving the needs of whole cities, not just those lucky enough to live in wealthy, formal areas. WSUP was founded with like-minded individuals from a wide variety of organisations who shared that vision. Now, through the ongoing work of these members and the considerable efforts of WSUP’s staff worldwide, WSUP can claim to be one of the leading thinkers and doers on urban WASH.

Cranfield University is privileged to be the only academic member of WSUP. Every year, WSUP has been able to sponsor a number of MSc thesis projects. These projects and the support from WSUP have given our students a chance to go into the field and see for real what they have been learning about in the classroom. The projects they work on also produce some really interesting research. Ruben Jimenez Redal, for example, was able to explore the impact of pricing on the uptake of household water connections in Maputo. One of his findings was that allowing people to spread the initial connection fee over several months increased the numbers of people connecting. David Nussbaumer, also sponsored by WSUP, researched the hydrogeological data needs of Water Trust managers working in Lusaka. These findings will be published soon in a special issue of Water journal looking at Urban Water Challenges.

Cranfield has also worked with WSUP on a number of larger research projects. One such project was a multi-city study looking at the impacts of climate change on water and sanitation services to informal settlements. This suggested local adaptations which accommodate regional climate predictions (the findings are published in a WSUP Practice Note as well as in Environment and Urbanization journal). We’ve also worked with WSUP and Clean Team on evaluating the potential treatment technologies for Kumasi. This involved running side-by-side testing of the different technologies.

Our work with WSUP is ultimately about developing the research-led evidence base that can support WSUP’s mission to develop water and sanitation service provision to the poor. I hope that we can continue this work well into the future because the benefits are so clear.