This Practice Note outlines the development of a toilet database to support sanitation business development and public health monitoring in Lusaka.

Currently being tested in the peri-urban area (PUA) of Kanyama, the electronic database enables information on the ownership, location, quality and emptying history of local pit latrines and septic tanks to be stored in one place.

Blog: November 2017 – Innovations to combat the spread of cholera in cities

Kanyama flooded pit latrine in construction

Innovations to combat the spread of cholera in cities

Cholera is a common public health burden in cities across the developing world, and tackling the spread of cholera in low-income communities is of high priority for city authorities. Particularly in regions where rainy seasons lead to frequent flooding, residents who rely on unimproved sanitation and drinking water facilities are at risk of exposure to […]


PULA app Practice Note front cover

Service providers involved in faecal sludge management (FSM) are held back by a lack of current data on their customer base, operating standards and levels of service.

This Practice Note introduces PULA, an innovative mobile app now being developed to bridge the data gap.

In WSUP’s experience, one key barrier to citywide FSM service provision is lack of data. This means a lack of up-to-date information about the areas of the city being serviced by FSM businesses; about the target customer base for these businesses, and the extent to which businesses are reaching low-income households; and about operating standards (the extent to which businesses are providing a safely managed service). Without this data, authorities are left in the dark about the state of sanitation service provision in their city, undermining their ability to plan, implement and evaluate FSM interventions.

A mobile app has the potential to respond effectively to these challenges, by facilitating real-time, accurate data collection. This in turn will give municipal authorities a clear picture of sanitation in their city; and support the professionalisation of vacuum tanker businesses, by giving drivers the means to collect detailed information about their customer base and jobs completed.
PULA: the design process.

WSUP and project partners BoP and UX are in the process of developing the app through an iterative human-centred design process, with the aim of ensuring app design and functionality respond to genuine user requirements. Initial, intensive ‘Design Sprints’ have been conducted in Ghana and Kenya to develop early prototypes and gather feedback through interviews and workshops with target users, including vacuum tanker business owners and water and sewerage utilities.

The aim is to develop an app which can be customised to the local context, enabling vacuum tanker owners, drivers and municipal sanitation authorities to choose from a menu of features.

Children checking a Clean Team toilet

Clean Team wins USAID digital innovation award

Clean Team, a Ghanaian social enterprise set up by WSUP, has won a Digital Development Award from USAID for its innovative approach to mobile money. The “Digis” recognise USAID projects and activities that embrace best practices in the application of digital technologies to address urgent development problems. Set up by WSUP in 2012, Clean Team […]


SWEEP operators at work, Bangladesh

Transforming the markets for emptying toilets in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, as in other developing countries, one of the biggest issues behind delivering improved sanitation services to the poorest urban residents is the collection and treatment of waste. The challenge is simple: Nearly half of the 55 million urban residents in Bangladesh lack access to sanitation facilities which enable faecal waste to be safely […]


Balancing financial viability and user affordability report cover

This Topic Brief presents assessments of the financial performance of six WSUP-supported WASH service delivery models in Bangladesh, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zambia.

Each model has been developed in partnership with locally mandated service providers to facilitate sustainable, at-scale improvements to low-income urban populations.

Locating the appropriate balance between financial viability and user affordability is at the core of WSUP’s programmatic activities. The approach is characterised by a number of important nuances specific to the contexts in which WSUP and partner institutions operate:

  • Long-term cost recovery is the goal
  • Urban sanitation service provision is uniquely challenging: ongoing public investment is typically required
  • Eventual uptake of new models is determined by the wider enabling environment

Dhaka is one of the world’s megacities, with a population of around 16 million.

The clear majority of residents (80%) are dependent on on-site sanitation systems, yet until recently, no private operator existed to provide mechanical emptying services to this vast and largely untapped market.

In 2015, a Public Private Partnership was established between Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority and a local small and medium sized enterprise aiming to bridge the service gap through a new faecal sludge emptying service – SWEEP.

SWEEP has now been operational for nearly two years, establishing itself as a viable business and becoming profitable five months after its launch.

This Topic Brief looks at the SWEEP initiative, the lessons learned, and how the business can now be scaled up across Dhaka and Bangladesh.