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, […]


Two years on from Cyclone Idai: new video shows how Beira is rebuilding

In Mozambique climate change is increasing the severity of natural disasters, weakening already vulnerable infrastructure and threatening to leave millions of low-income residents of cities without access to water and sanitation. This was the case in 2019 when Cyclone Idai hit the city of Beira, destroying much of the city’s water network and over 11,000 […]


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 […]


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.

Defending against disease: Improving WASH in Maputo’s schools

Broken sanitation facilities with no access to clean water make it difficult for students to enjoy a clean and safe environment in Maputo’s schools. Following years of working in individual schools, a new strategy developed by WSUP and the city council aims to help schools across the city defend against Covid-19 and other diseases. In […]