Building resilience to climate change experiences from Southern Zambia

As the effects of man-made climate change become more pronounced, water shortages are becoming more common throughout Africa, with Southern Africa identified as a particular climate change hotspot.

This report examines the challenges faced by Southern Water & Sanitation Company Limited (SWSC) in Southern Zambia, as climate change has reduced its available water supply in recent years.

The report outlines steps being taken by SWSC under a utility strengthening programme created by WSUP with support from Wasser fuer Wasser.

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).

Gender inequity at the level of policy, regulation and management limits the voice and participation of women decision-makers and can perpetuate inequities throughout the sanitation sector. To address this, the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative aims to analyse gender inequity in educational and professional settings of sanitation-related organisations.

  • Among staff at sanitation-related public-sector institutions in Kenya, a large majority of both men and women recognise that women have different needs and priorities when it comes to sanitation.
  • Both men and women showed awareness of the needs of women regarding particular attributes of latrines, such as menstrual hygiene management (MHM) facilities or physical safety.
  • A more participatory approach allowed more gendered perspectives and seemed to lead to gender-sensitive programming and policies; an infrastructure-led approach, focusing more on hardware installation and less on participation, led to less gender-sensitive programming and policies.

This research was led by Athena Infonomics; more information about the project and other reports can be found here.

Gender inequity at the level of policy, regulation and management limits the voice and participation of women decision-makers and can perpetuate inequities throughout the sanitation sector. To address this, the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative aims to analyse gender inequity in educational and professional settings of sanitation-related organisations.

  • Women working at sanitation-related public-sector institutions in Kenya reported challenges at work, which limited their professional aspirations, their voice and their influence on policies.
  • Barriers exist at all stages of career development: girls face gender bias in school when pursuing technical degrees; young career-women must balance greater familial obligations than men; and mid-career women lack many of the networking opportunities that men have.
  • Bullying and sexual harassment of women have not been adequately addressed thus far, leaving some women with little support and few alternatives.

It is crucial for the sanitation sector to meet the basic needs of their female staff, such as:

  1. Full access to MHM-friendly latrines at all sites, including waste treatment plants and field sites.
  2. Maternity and paternity leave, flexible scheduling and lactation rooms for new mothers
  3. For young mothers and fathers, create nearby or on-site alternatives to workshops and conferences that require travel. When travel is unavoidable, make arrangements for young mothers to return quickly in an emergency.
  4. Provide PPE that are designed for women, for all jobs that require protective gear.
  5. Create a culture that is intolerant to sexual jokes in professional settings. Create confidential systems that protect victims of sexual harassment, and discourage sexual predators.
  6. Create professional groups, systems and events which allow women to network, mentor and support each other, during hours and in locations that are friendly to women.
  7. Educate managers and staff of the benefits of both gender equity among staff, and equal representation of women and men among management.
  8. Make salary structures and promotion policies transparent and ensure that all employees are considered equally.

This research was led by Athena Infonomics; more information about the project and other reports can be found here.

The Urban Sanitation Research Initiative aims to analyse the internal workings of organisations that make and implement sanitation policy, regulation and services to address four specific questions: (a) the gender balance in decision-making/technical roles in these organisations; (b) how attitudes to sanitation vary between male and female decision-makers; (c) the key barriers to female participation in these roles; (d) provide recommendations for equitable recruitment, placement and career advancement of women.

Across six national and County sanitation-related institutions in Kenya, an average of 37% of top-level staff were women. Corporate leadership roles are particularly unevenly split between genders.

This mapping exercise is part of a wider analysis of attitudes of decision-makers in the sanitation sector in Kenya and the barriers to these roles for women.

This research was led by Athena Infonomics; a summary of a literature review from this project can be found here.

Gender inequity at the level of policy, regulation and management can perpetuate inequities throughout the sanitation sector, limiting the voice and participation of women decision-makers.

A literature review was completed as part of a research project analysing the internal workings of organisations that contribute to and implement sanitation services and policy in Kenya.

Despite evidence that equal gender representation at managerial levels can increase firm performance and the quality of services provided, women are still under-represented in sanitation governance globally and in Kenya.

Numerous barriers to advancement exist at various stages, from a bias against women training in STEM fields to hostile work environments that discourage advancement.

Significant gaps remain in the literature on women working and progressing in sanitation and other technical fields.

The next stage of the research is to assess (a) the gender balance in decision-making/technical roles in these organisations; (b) how attitudes to sanitation vary between male and female decision-makers; (c) and the key barriers to female participation in these roles. This will lead to recommendations for equitable recruitment, placement and career advancement of women.

The full literature review can be accessed here.

This research was led by Athena Infonomics; results from a mapping exercise of sanitation public bodies in Kenya can be found here.

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

WSUP has been working to catalyse the Ghanaian market for improved sanitation through introducing and selling affordable and desirable products. While it sounds simple, efforts to sell various sanitation products in Ga West (in Greater Accra) and Kumasi were thwarted by overarching issues that prevented potential customers from purchasing and installing sanitation products in their homes.

Using quotes from residents of Ga West and Kumasi as discussion points, this report explores the financial, social, legal and physical hurdles to improving household sanitation in Ghana. We demonstrate the impact that such a ‘disabling’ environment can have on market-based programmes and make suggestions for practical activities that WSUP and other actors could pursue to ease the path to the market for safe sanitation products in the future:

  1. Incentivise product and business development to reduce costs
  2. Reduce dependence on public toilets as primary sanitation facilities
  3. Enforce existing by-laws in a sensitive manner
  4. Target and inform landlords about investing in sanitation
  5. Increase local government funding for sanitation activities
  6. Tailor financial mechanisms to be more inclusive
  7. Apply subsidies carefully to avoid distorting the market

Slow uptake of household toilets in urban Ghana is due to several factors, including (but not limited to) cost which is a key focus of stakeholders. Collating data on the costs of constructing toilets in Kumasi, this Practice Note provides points of comparison for others seeking to build toilets in Ghana and beyond.

Ghana has endured a difficult macro-economic period, with rates of inflation rising to around 17.5% in 2016. Although rates have since reduced, the impact on costs of materials, labour and credit were a constraint on sales of Round Concrete Tanks (RCTs), pit latrines and SaTo Pans in Kumasi in 2018 and 2019.

Only 15% of Ghanaians use an improved household toilet, while nearly a quarter lack access to any household or shared facility. Inability to obtain finance is often cited as a key barrier.

Financial institutions offer toilet loans to help sanitation customers and providers bridge the gap, but uptake is low and businesses face wider challenges in providing affordable products.

This Practice Note considers how demand for sanitation financing products in Ghana could increase.