The residents of the coastal town of Malindi, popular for its beautiful beaches, largely depend on on-site sanitation. There is no waste treatment plant and only 25% of the waste is safely managed. As a result, 90% of hand dug wells are contaminated causing serious health risks in the communities.

Leaders in Kilifi County Government and the water and sanitation utility, Malindi Water and Sewerage Company (MAWASCO) have recognised the urgent need to improve the sanitation and solid waste challenges in the city and have created an ambitious plan to tackle this problem.

This summary report shares the vision for city-wide inclusive sanitation (CWIS) and the developed action and investment plans.

Marginalised urban communities are often characterised by three things: complexity, interdependence of challenges, and constant evolution.

The sheer numbers of people living close together in poorly planned communities can make improving the quality of life extremely difficult. The rapid rate of urbanisation – by 2050, the number of people living in African cities will double to 1.5 billion – means that there is no such thing as the status quo. Every month, every year, unplanned urban settlements get larger, and more complex.

In urban environments, issues such as water access, drainage, health, street design and solid waste management are all inextricably linked. Poor drainage leads to flooding, causing damage to flimsy sanitation facilities. Rubbish collected in drainage canals can exacerbate the issue and lead to stagnant water which becomes a breeding ground for disease. Sanitation facilities cannot be safely emptied if poor road access makes it impossible for emptying services to operate.

Tackling these issues in an integrated manner makes intuitive sense – but too often it just doesn’t happen, due to significant barriers such as cost, complexity, and the siloed nature of the development sector.

This report by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) and Arquitectura sin Fronteras (also known as ASF-España, referred to in the report as ASF-E), examines how to overcome this immense challenge, from the perspective of water and sanitation services.

The report demonstrates why water and sanitation improvements can be more effective when combined with other areas of urban development, and analyses how, in practice, this integration can occur.

Drawing on evidence from cities such as Maputo, Accra, Nairobi and Antananarivo, the report finds that integrating WASH with wider slum development can improve the overall impact, and the ease of delivery, of WASH services.

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.

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.

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.

Dirty water_ John Laing

Stronger regulators crucial to improving sanitation services for the poorest, report finds

A new report published by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) and the Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation (ESAWAS) Regulators Association identifies how stronger regulators can play an important role in improving sanitation for under-served urban residents. The report, entitled Referee! Responsibilities, regulations and regulating for urban sanitation, has four key […]


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).