Integrated Slum Upgrading: details and learnings from four experiences in Africa

Projects executed in Africa in the past few years have helped WSUP better understand the connection between water and sanitation issues and other challenges faced by residents of low-income urban areas. Our report “Integrated Slum Upgrading”, first released in May 2021, indicates a clear path towards successful outcomes: solutions to the most urgent problems in […]


Can new pan-African policy guidelines help bring about national sanitation programmes?

With 72% of the 962 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa lacking access to basic sanitation, and governments struggling to increase access, new action is required to accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. This situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, further underscoring the need for African governments to meet their national, […]


Taking water, sanitation and hygiene out of the silo: new report builds the case for integrated urban development

Water, sanitation and hygiene improvements need to be integrated into wider urban development initiatives to have maximum reach and impact, according to a new report published by WSUP and Arquitectura sin Fronteras. Drawing on evidence from cities such as Maputo, Accra, Nairobi and Antananarivo, the report, entitled Integrated Slum Upgrading: how can we link water […]


Marginalised urban communities are often characterised by three things: complexity, interdependence of challenges, and constant evolution.

The sheer numbers of people living close together in poorly planned communities can make improving the quality of life extremely difficult. The rapid rate of urbanisation – by 2050, the number of people living in African cities will double to 1.5 billion – means that there is no such thing as the status quo. Every month, every year, unplanned urban settlements get larger, and more complex.

In urban environments, issues such as water access, drainage, health, street design and solid waste management are all inextricably linked. Poor drainage leads to flooding, causing damage to flimsy sanitation facilities. Rubbish collected in drainage canals can exacerbate the issue and lead to stagnant water which becomes a breeding ground for disease. Sanitation facilities cannot be safely emptied if poor road access makes it impossible for emptying services to operate.

Tackling these issues in an integrated manner makes intuitive sense – but too often it just doesn’t happen, due to significant barriers such as cost, complexity, and the siloed nature of the development sector.

This report by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) and Arquitectura sin Fronteras (also known as ASF-España, referred to in the report as ASF-E), examines how to overcome this immense challenge, from the perspective of water and sanitation services.

The report demonstrates why water and sanitation improvements can be more effective when combined with other areas of urban development, and analyses how, in practice, this integration can occur.

Drawing on evidence from cities such as Maputo, Accra, Nairobi and Antananarivo, the report finds that integrating WASH with wider slum development can improve the overall impact, and the ease of delivery, of WASH services.

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 […]


The stepping stones for sustainable water

For the residents of Soalandy, a commune in Madagascar, a new laundry block with access to clean and drinkable water is bringing enormous value. But ensuring that the service is sustainable is so much more than bricks and mortar. It is about community buy-in, training and community-led management. The theme of this year’s World Water […]


Handwashing station in Accra, Ghana

Covid-19 and crowded urban settlements: how can we stop the spread?

By Sam Drabble, Acting Head of Evaluation, Research & Learning For the one billion people living in informal urban settlements in the Global South, the spread of coronavirus poses an imminent threat that could prove catastrophic. A range of factors makes transmission of the virus in these contexts more likely, and the potential impacts even […]