Mind the Gap: what happens when customers cannot afford safe sanitation?

By Sam Drabble, Head of Evaluation, Research & Learning In a recent publication, WSUP explored what quality sanitation means from a public health and user experience perspective. But there is a further question which is core to achieving Citywide Inclusive Sanitation: how can quality sanitation be financed? The scale of the financing challenge for urban […]


Sanitation for all is a challenge particularly acute for low and middle-income countries. In the face of funding constraints, and a lack of political influence among those living in poorer areas, governments have tended to under-prioritise sanitation as a public investment
area.

Yet, countries have committed to the Sustainable Development Goal for sanitation. In doing so, governments have pledged to the Leaving no one behind principle, and to reaching the underserved as a matter of priority. A key question in this endeavour is which financing models can support governments’ ambitions for citywide sanitation.

This publication explores how high-quality sanitation can be financed in low-income urban areas in developing contexts. It is based on
findings from four research projects conducted under WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative 2016–2020 (USRI), funded by UK Aid:

  1. A research project led by the Aquaya Institute and conducted in five cities – Kisumu (Kenya), Nakuru (Kenya), Malindi (Kenya), Kumasi (Ghana), and Rangpur (Bangladesh) – identified the costs of sanitation services and the willingness-to-pay of poor urban households for those services (this research is referred to as SanCost in this paper);
  2. A second research project led by the Aquaya Institute and which carried out a comparison of service models, financing models and willingness-to-pay for faecal sludge emptying services in Kisumu (Kenya);
  3. A third research project by the Aquaya Institute that considered the willingness-to-pay of utility customers for a sanitation surcharge on the water bill to cross-subsidise sanitation for the poor in two Kenyan cities; and
  4. Finally, a research project led by Dr. Charles Yaw Oduro (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology) and conducted in two districts in Ghana that examined policy-makers and taxpayers’ attitudes towards a sanitation surcharge on the property tax.

WSUP publishes 2020-2021 Annual Report

WSUP has launched its 2020-2021 Annual Report, presenting our operations and impact in the year up to March 2021. Through work in our core countries Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zambia, plus our emerging presence in Uganda and consultancy work in Malawi and Cambodia, we were proud to improve the lives of 6.7 million […]


Valuing toilets: how customers rate the container-based sanitation experience

By Sam Drabble, Head of Evaluation, Research & Learning Container-based sanitation (CBS) offers an innovative response to the challenge of sanitation in densely populated urban settlements. This blog presents key findings from a ground-breaking study looking at customer satisfaction with Clean Team Ghana, a CBS provider owned by WSUP serving over 3200 customers in Kumasi, […]


Container-based sanitation (CBS) systems are acknowledged by the JMP as providing improved sanitation services. By contrast with onsite-infiltration systems, such as latrines and septic tanks, container-based systems ensure full containment of faecal waste.

This Research Brief presents the results of an evaluation of user experience of CBS. The study found that CBS provides social benefits including increased satisfaction for women, and for those unable to use the toilet at night or otherwise excluded from accessing toilets for physical or social reasons.

Most Clean Team Ghana customers previously used public toilets – they show higher satisfaction with CBS, and on average, paid 3.6 USD or 20 GHS person/month less for sanitation with Clean Team Ghana. The study strengthens the evidence base that CBS, under the right arrangements, should be considered as an option to be included in the national sanitation policy and contribute towards Ghana meeting Sanitation for All.

Safely managed onsite sanitation: a life changer for low-income communities

Toilets: we cannot live without them. However, about half of humanity does. According to the United Nations, 3.6 billion people around the globe live without access to a toilet “that works properly”. With that in mind, the UN has focused on those in need of this very basic service on its campaign for World Toilet […]


Building resilience faster: Join us for World Water Week 2021

How can water help us tackle the world’s greatest challenges and build resilient cities faster? Join us virtually for four sessions during the week to find out. As the world faces multiple challenges from increasing urban populations to climate change and with the SDG deadline fast approaching, finding ways to improve the resilience of cities […]


For urban sanitation systems to function safely, at scale, over time, and inclusively, they must be organized to support three functions: responsibilityaccountability, and resource planning and management.

This short publication looks at the function of resource planning and management, drawing on a desk review of over 40 urban sanitation investments in twenty-eight countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Click for a longer version of this publication, which explains the resource planning and management function in more detail, on the basis of specific case studies.

For urban sanitation systems to function safely, at scale, over time, and inclusively, they must be organized to support three functions: responsibilityaccountability, and resource planning and management.

In this paper, we explore the accountability mechanisms that can be applied to the different service provision mandate structures identified in our parallel paper on responsibilities.

Click for a longer version of this publication, which explains the accountability function in more detail, on the basis of specific case studies.

For urban sanitation systems to function safely, at scale, over time, and inclusively, they must be organized to support three functions: responsibilityaccountability, and resource planning and management.

This short publication looks at the function of responsibility: the extent to which sanitation authorities are clearly mandated.

Click for a longer version of this publication, which explains the responsibility function in more detail, on the basis of specific case studies.