What is water worth?

To mark World Water Day, 22 March, WSUP is shining a light on the value of water: the theme for this year’s campaign. Water brings value in so many ways, whether it is through education, employment, nutrition, health, or environmental protection. Safeguarding this precious resource for the benefit of everyone is critical. Watch the video […]


Valuing water: the importance of clean water for garment industry workers

The readymade garment industry is the lifeline of the Bangladesh economy. Yet, the workers in these factories who live in nearby low-income communities lack access to clean water, safe sanitation, and handwashing facilities. Investing in these basic services at the community level can bring clear benefits for businesses – a healthier workforce means better productivity. […]


What does ‘quality’ sanitation mean in low-income urban areas?

By Sam Drabble, Head of Evaluation, Research & Learning Broadly speaking, when we advocate for investment in sanitation, it is because we are trying to achieve two critically important aims: improve human health, and improve wellbeing or quality of life. But to what extent are sanitation interventions actually achieving these aims? In many cases, the […]


This discussion paper explores how high-quality sanitation can be achieved in low-income urban areas in developing contexts. It is based on findings from four research projects conducted under, or in association with, WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative 2016–2020 (USRI), funded by DFID.

The four research projects considered here are:

  1. The Faecal Pathogen Flows study in Dhaka, Bangladesh — aiming to track and model how faecal pathogens move through urban low-income communities (LICs), as a tool to support sanitation intervention planning in developing contexts.
  2. The MapSan study carried out in Maputo, Mozambique — one of the largest and most rigorous studies ever conducted of the health impacts of an urban sanitation intervention.
  3. The QUISS study — based on large-scale surveys in Bangladesh, Ghana and Kenya, aiming to identify minimum standards for high-quality shared sanitation in urban contexts, and workable indicators of shared sanitation quality.
  4. The Clean Team evaluation — assessing customer experience among customers of Clean Team Ghana, a container-based sanitation enterprise.
Melita Zeca, resident in Beira

Water-smart, inclusive, and integrated: ways to climate-proof sanitation systems

What have toilets got to do with climate change? This World Toilet Day, WSUP is highlighting how climate change is placing a growing strain on urban sanitation systems, and looks at ways to improve the climate resiliency of services to the poorest. Climate change is threatening sanitation systems in cities. Droughts in southern Africa have […]


How climate change is worsening sanitation in Rangpur, Bangladesh

For residents like Samsuddin Mia (pictured above), access to a safe and decent toilet is vital in the wake of extreme weather conditions. Long and heavy rains from June to December are not an uncommon occurrence for residents living in northern parts of Bangladesh. However, over the last couple of years, cities like Rangpur in […]


Rangpur citywide inclusive sanitation photoshoot

Marketing the un-marketable? Selling sanitation in Bangladesh

In an environment where many are unwilling to pay for sanitation, how can we promote safe services? In Bangladesh, WSUP is trialling different marketing models to encourage greater uptake of services. We tested door-to-door brand promoters with promotions running in trusted shops (retail agents), to find out which were more effective at targeting different stages […]


This Discussion Paper synthesises experience from Eastern and Southern Africa and Bangladesh to explore the evolving role of regulators in driving urban sanitation service improvements.

The paper argues that effective regulators and regulations are urgently needed to improve urban sanitation services to the poorest, and highlights some ways in which this can be achieved.

The paper features six case studies of diverse regulatory initiatives, ranging from sanitation surcharges and specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to national-level institutional and regulatory frameworks. In each case, the paper aims to document how progress has been made, but also to critically assess future challenges to implementation. Key messages of the paper are:

  • Regulatory effectiveness is a core driver of improved sanitation services. Every football match needs a referee.
  • Regulations are not enough. Clear responsibilities and active regulating are essential.
  • Problems cannot be solved in one bold step. Active regulating involves incremental change, extensive consultation and testing.
  • A Regulating Ladder could support countries in their journey towards active regulating.

This is a joint publication between The Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation Regulators Association (ESAWAS) and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP).