Coronavirus poster

Weaknesses in water, sanitation and hygiene systems exposed by pandemic, say experts

Highlights from a panel discussion on how cities are adapting to challenges such as the Covid-19 crisis. At a WSUP event held yesterday, a panel of expert speakers outlined the challenges faced in the urban water, sanitation and hygiene sector as a result of Covid-19, and made recommendations on priorities for the sector. The Adapting […]


In cities across Africa, rapidly expanding low-income communities (LICs) pose unique technical and social challenges to utilities in expanding services – but they also present an opportunity to expand the customer base and generate revenues. COVID-19 is placing huge additional pressures on the financial viability of utilities, exacerbating the need for innovative service delivery models to this segment of the customer base. In the context of short and long-term challenges posed by COVID-19, water utilities must take every measure available to improve the efficiency of operations: service quality and attention to the customer will be even more important; greater control will be required over the distribution network; and billing and revenues will need to be maximized to support the bottom line.

Smart Water Meters are a new technology with the potential to assist utilities in this process of transformation. The model offers greater control for the customer, through a flexible prepayment tailored to the spending habits of low-income households; and greater control for the utility, enabling real-time data on water demand across the supply area, and supporting a shift from reactive firefighting to preventative planning. Pilots of the technology to date have produced good results; however, more testing is needed, particularly in LICs. One project expected to inform the evidence base is a pilot of 500 smart meters recently underway in Watamu, in the Kenyan district of Malindi.

This article is part of a review by The Veolia Institute – check out the full publication here.

New report explores market-based solutions to meet SDG6 targets

Inspired by best practice within the private sector, a new report titled A meeting of mindsets highlights how social enterprises and sustainable investors can work together to develop market-based solutions to tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges. Increasing number of mainstream investors are prioritising sustainability initiatives – a welcome addition to the SDG funding […]


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.

Read more about this report on NextBillion.

Kiosk operator serves a customer in Madagascar

‘Leaky bucket marketing’: the importance of balancing acquisition with retention

By Annie Hall, Marketing Specialist Over the past year, I have been working alongside WSUP’s country teams to support utilities in extending their reach to more people, in the most deprived areas of a city. Projects usually feature an infrastructure-led programme to extend the network, supported by some form of community sensitisation campaign to drive […]


Combining toilets and mobile tech

We’ve all heard it before – more people in Africa have mobile phones than have access to sewerage (according to the 2017 Afrobarometer survey, at least). It’s not that useful a comparison when you think about the difference in cost, installation and infrastructure requirements of a toilet compared to a mobile phone, but it’s still […]


This Topic Brief presents WSUP’s experience supporting sanitation businesses oriented towards low-income customers in five cities. Each case study highlights changes to the business model or enabling environment with the potential to trigger business growth.

In WSUP’s experience, the success of sanitation businesses depends on factors internal to the business as well as those external, and out of the control of, the business. We have seen that where businesses and development actors are able to identify and push these trigger points, rapid progress can be made in business growth.

Service providers involved in faecal sludge management are held back by a lack of current data on their customer base, operating standards and levels of service. Pula, a mobile app, was developed to address this data gap.

This publication shares the learning from a 3-year process of developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for the Pula app. We outline how the MVP was designed and developed, supported by reflections from the app development team about the technology and user requirements.

The publication concludes with three key recommendations identified by the app development team:

  • Focus on one core feature and ensure this is fit for purpose;
  • Establish a relationship with one target customer, allowing the product to be tested over longer periods; and
  • Focus on developing a product tailored to a single market, which can then be adapted for new markets as required.

See also: Design, Prototype, Test: using Design Sprints to develop an app for sanitation service providers

This Practice Note describes the design process behind development of a mobile app, Pula, inspired by GV’s Design Sprint method. Pula aims to support vacuum tankers with their business while providing urban planners with data about sanitation in the city.

See also: Integrating mobile tech into sanitation services: insights from Pula