Ilda Timan in front of the toilet block

Creating a safe and sustainable water supply for 50,000 low-income residents of Maputo

Increasing urbanisation in Mozambique’s cities is placing ever-growing demand on water services, meaning many vulnerable urban residents have limited or no access to clean, piped water. Together with Borealis, WSUP worked with the infrastructure asset owner FIPAG and small-scale operators in Maputo to extend the water network, repair water tanks and provide training on how […]


Climate recovery in Beira: sustainable water and sanitation access for a more resilient city

In the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, WSUP has been delivering sustainable, long-term water and sanitation solutions to help mitigate the effects of climate change for thousands of residents in Beira. In March 2019 Cyclone Idai caused devastation across Mozambique, including in the city of Beira which suffered from widespread flooding and severe damage to its […]


School sanitation in Aeroporto B

The virtuous circle of good customer service: experience from Mozambique

By Antonio Madeira, Head of Water, Mozambique Creating stronger service providers, a core strategic goal for WSUP’s 2020-2025 business plan, requires development of scalable business models that allow services to be provided to low-income customers at a profit. There are two fundamental ways to make a business model more profitable: increasing revenue or reducing costs […]


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).

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 […]


Child-washing-hands-outside-school-in-Kumasi

Our response to Covid-19: CEO message

Access to clean water and good hygiene have never been more important. A message from our CEO Neil Jeffery I wanted to share with you an update on WSUP’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the last week, we have been working tirelessly to reorient our organisation – getting staff back to their home countries, […]


Henriqueta and her children access water

From the front line of climate change: residents tell their stories

What does climate change mean for the most vulnerable people living in urban areas? Ahead of this year’s World Water Day, WSUP has been finding out how climate change affects the water and sanitation needs of city residents. The following stories give a snapshot of the challenges faced around the world, from rising temperatures in […]


Sharing insights at the Urban WASH Inclusion Masterclass

Solving the big challenges of inclusive services through peer-to-peer learning

There is no greater way for city authorities and regulators to learn about developing inclusive water and sanitation services than from their peers – other institutions around the world who are confronting similar issues. That was the thinking behind the Urban WASH Inclusion Masterclass 2019, organised by WSUP and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative […]


Rebooting the system: Lessons from Lusaka and Maputo

To mark World Toilet Day, we’ve launched a new report which identifies steps needed to support cities in delivering citywide sanitation services. The report, entitled Systems Reboot, identifies four components crucial to bringing change for all urban residents: Begin by optimising one part of the system, to overcome institutional inertia and secure buy-in for wider […]


In one in seven countries, access to basic sanitation is decreasing. Even in cities, where access to safely managed sanitation is more prevalent than in rural areas, gaps between the rich and the poor continue to be stark.

But what does this look like at a city level?

This Discussion Paper provides examples of how a systems approach can be applied at a city level by looking at two cities – Lusaka, Zambia and Maputo, Mozambique – that have experienced positive change in their on-site sanitation sector over the last decade.

Each case study contains an in-depth examination of one particular component of the system that was identified by stakeholders as being particularly crucial: a community-based, utility-managed faecal sludge management (FSM) service in Lusaka, and the design of a sanitation tariff in Maputo.

The report identifies four components crucial to bringing change for all urban residents:

  1. Begin by optimising one part of the system, to overcome institutional inertia and secure buy-in for wider change
  2. Embrace the power of process, recognising that simply bringing people together to discuss challenges can help to move change forward
  3. Design investments to address genuine system constraints, rather than purely directing investment towards more tangible infrastructure projects
  4. Anticipate and factor in delays, due to the likelihood of unexpected political, economic or capacity constraints slowing down progress