Smart water: the experience of utilities in adopting digital solutions

Across 2021 and 2022 the GSMA’s Digital Utilities programme and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) collaborated on research exploring four Kenyan water utilities experience of adopting digital solutions and their digitalisation journey more broadly. This blog, co-written by Eden Mati (WSUP) and Zach White (GSMA), summarises the report’s key findings and messages. […]


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.

Upgrading the importance of low-income customers in Ghana’s water sector

The more visible low-income customers are within a utility, the better the quality of the service they will receive. And so, the decision by Ghana’s national water provider, Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), to upgrade the Low-Income Customer Support Unit (LICSU) into a full department is excellent news for many under-served Ghanaians. WSUP has been […]


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, […]


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 […]


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 […]


WSUP announced as Million Lives Club member

WSUP has been selected as an official member of the Million Lives Club, in recognition of our work with city authorities in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to improve water and sanitation for the poorest residents. The Million Lives Club celebrates innovators and social entrepreneurs that are scaling and making a significant impact […]