Core to WSUP’s guiding strategy is the belief that market-based solutions will contribute significantly to sustainable progress in tackling the world’s biggest challenge: water and sanitation for all.

However, financially viable business models targeting the poorest residents are just not very many.

Our work with local service providers, social enterprises, and WASH-driven start-ups, seeks to de-risk entry into the water and sanitation market, and drive growth for the business models with the potential to create lasting change.

The ideas outlined in this report explores how social enterprises and sustainable investors can work together to make SDG 6 a reality.

Improving sanitation conditions in low-income communities is a major challenge in rapidly growing cities of the developing world.

To determine the degree through which market forces can promote safe fecal sludge removal in low-income neighbourhoods of Kisumu, Kenya, this research compared household willingness-to-pay for formal pit emptying services with the prices charged by service providers.

The results suggest that improving fecal sludge management in these neighbourhoods via the private sector will require large subsidies to address the gap between willingness-to-pay and market prices.

Raising and administering subsidies of this scale will require the development of a city wide sanitation master plan that includes investment, management, and regulatory procedures for fecal sludge management.

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.

Promoting safe pit-emptying services in urban, low-income areas is required to achieve universal access to safely-managed sanitation.

To evaluate strategies for increasing access to safe, regulated pit-emptying services, this study compared the performance of different groups in coordinating incentivized emptying services to low-income areas of Kisumu, Kenya.

Improving sanitation conditions in low-income communities is a major challenge for rapidly growing cities of the developing world. Residents of low-income communities generally do not have access to formal, regulated sanitation services such as centralized sewerage networks.

Instead, they typically rely on unsafe practices for removing and disposing of fecal sludge, such as connecting pit latrines or septic tanks to drains, or employing informal manual emptiers who remove fecal sludge by hand or buckets and either bury it onsite or dispose of it in nearby waterways.

This study quantified the gap between market prices (supply) and the amount households are willing to pay (demand) for safe emptying services in Kisumu’s low-income areas.

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.