Is slum sanitation likely to require major subsidy?

Improving sanitation in slum communities is a complex challenge. Particularly challenging is working out how it can be financed. By Guy Norman, WSUP’s Director of Research and Evaluation Now if you believe that subsidy is a Bad Thing or just ain’t ever gonna happen, you might approach slum sanitation by first assessing what slumdwellers are […]


Polluted river in Biafra, Nairobi

Five myths preventing increased access to urban water and sanitation

Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) has identified five myths which are stopping investors, agencies and policymakers from properly addressing the inadequate access to essential water and sanitation services in cities across Africa and South Asia. The five myths are published in a new report, Running Dry: Tackling the myths about urban water […]


Running Dry front cover

WSUP has identified five myths which are stopping investors, agencies and policymakers from properly addressing the inadequate access to essential water and sanitation services in cities across Africa and South Asia.

 

Myth one: Struggling utilities are unable to serve the poorest

The reality: Much-maligned, publicly owned utilities can deliver services for the poorest communities.

Myth two: Water should be free

The reality: Water is a human right, but people should still pay for it. Even the poorest.

Myth three: Communities should be responsible for their own services

The reality: Community ownership can result in poor services. We should be aiming for community buy-in instead.

Myth four: We should only focus on household facilities

The reality: Community sanitation facilities can help bridge the gap when household facilities are not viable.

Myth five: Building toilets alone will solve the sanitation crisis

The reality: Solving the waste management conundrum is bigger than just building toilets.

 

Experience from SHARE, REACH and the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative

Delivering high-quality research can be challenging. But achieving research uptake – impact on policy or other aspects of the “real world” – is enormously challenging. In low-income contexts the barriers to achieving change can seem profound, in view of economic and capacity limitations. In fact, achieving policy change may not necessarily be more difficult in low-income contexts than in wealthier contexts (for example, Rwanda and Kenya outlawed plastic bags almost overnight, whereas even the most ambitious EU countries set targets 3-5 years into the future). Nonetheless, it’s clear that using research to drive meaningful change is far from straightforward.

This Discussion Paper considers the experience of three ongoing research-into-use programmes: we identify the major challenges we have faced in achieving research uptake, and discuss strategies we are using (or that we might use in future) to overcome those challenges.

All three programmes are core-funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Combining toilets and mobile tech

We’ve all heard it before – more people in Africa have mobile phones than have access to sewerage (according to the 2017 Afrobarometer survey, at least). It’s not that useful a comparison when you think about the difference in cost, installation and infrastructure requirements of a toilet compared to a mobile phone, but it’s still […]


This Topic Brief presents WSUP’s experience supporting sanitation businesses oriented towards low-income customers in five cities. Each case study highlights changes to the business model or enabling environment with the potential to trigger business growth.

In WSUP’s experience, the success of sanitation businesses depends on factors internal to the business as well as those external, and out of the control of, the business. We have seen that where businesses and development actors are able to identify and push these trigger points, rapid progress can be made in business growth.

Service providers involved in faecal sludge management are held back by a lack of current data on their customer base, operating standards and levels of service. Pula, a mobile app, was developed to address this data gap.

This publication shares the learning from a 3-year process of developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for the Pula app. We outline how the MVP was designed and developed, supported by reflections from the app development team about the technology and user requirements.

The publication concludes with three key recommendations identified by the app development team:

  • Focus on one core feature and ensure this is fit for purpose;
  • Establish a relationship with one target customer, allowing the product to be tested over longer periods; and
  • Focus on developing a product tailored to a single market, which can then be adapted for new markets as required.

See also: Design, Prototype, Test: using Design Sprints to develop an app for sanitation service providers

This Practice Note describes the design process behind development of a mobile app, Pula, inspired by GV’s Design Sprint method. Pula aims to support vacuum tankers with their business while providing urban planners with data about sanitation in the city.

See also: Integrating mobile tech into sanitation services: insights from Pula

It’s all about action on menstrual hygiene

“I want girls my age to know everything about menstrual hygiene.” Seventeen-year old Tina Akhter is an active member of a group that regularly meets to discuss hygiene issues in her community in Dhaka, Bangladesh. “My period started when I was 12 years old and I had no information about menstruation until I experienced it […]