Growing Nairobi, flowing Nairobi: a Story Map for World Cities Day

In some of the poorest urban communities of Nairobi, residents currently spend one-fifth of their income procuring humanity’s most basic need: water. As the city’s low-income communities grow in size, and as inequality becomes more pronounced, so it becomes more important to tackle this most vital issue in a comprehensive fashion. Policymakers, NGOs, the private […]


According to the Local Government (City Corporation) Act 2009, City Corporations (CCs) are responsible for sanitation in large cities – a key public service, because millions of urban Bangladeshis of all income levels rely on on-site sanitation like septic tanks.

But are CCs able to deliver safe and affordable sanitation services such as faecal sludge management (FSM) to millions of urban citizens? And is there internal awareness of the issues, and a desire to overcome barriers blocking improvements to sanitation for all, including the very poorest?

This research looked at organisational practice and capacity for sanitation planning and investment in three CCs – Dhaka North (serving a population of just under 8 million in 2011), Chittagong (2.5 million, 2011) and Rangpur (120,000, 2017). This Policy Brief summarises recommendations about how CC staff can improve pro-poor sanitation.

According to the Local Government (City Corporation) Act 2009, City Corporations (CCs) are responsible for sanitation in large cities – a key public service, because millions of urban Bangladeshis of all income levels rely on on-site sanitation like septic tanks. But are CCs able to deliver safe and affordable sanitation services such as faecal sludge management (FSM) to millions of urban citizens? And is there internal awareness of the issues, and a desire to overcome barriers blocking improvements to sanitation for all, including the very poorest?

Researchers examined organisational practice and capacity for sanitation planning and investment in three CCs – Dhaka North (serving a population of just under 8 million in 2011), Chittagong (2.5 million, 2011) and Rangpur (120,000, 2017).

This Policy Brief summarises the findings and provides recommendations about how CC staff can improve pro-poor sanitation.

The establishment of a strong institutional framework for Kenya’s sanitation sector can help secure better urban sanitation outcomes by coordinating action, ensuring cooperation and generating commitment among the responsible organisations at all levels. Kenya’s institutional framework is currently in transition and the enactment of the Environmental and Sanitation Bill will provide the much-needed enabling environment for coordinated and regulated interventions, especially for low-income areas and informal urban settlements.

This research-into-policy work was carried out in close collaboration with WASREB (the national water regulator) and the Ministry of Health, and aimed to identify lessons from decentralised countries that have faced similar challenges, to engage Kenyan stakeholders to assess the lessons’ adaptability, and to identify a way forward and engage in policy dialogue in the context of the ongoing institutional reforms.

The main institutional bottlenecks identified in Kenya were:

  1. Overlap and competition for sector
  2. Weak incentives at sub-national level to commit policy attention to urban sanitation
  3. Limited regulatory oversight for onsite sanitation

The establishment of a harmonised approach to sanitation could solve a number of critical institutional limitations, which include functional overlaps, competition around sector leadership, weak political incentives for governments to commit policy attention to sanitation, and a disjointed legislative and regulatory framework for onsite sanitation service provision.

Aims

The primary sector influence aims of the present research are to generate evidence that can support judgements on minimum criteria for high-quality shared sanitation, internationally and in the three countries, and to provide evidence-based support to the development of relevant international and national policy documents that (in their turn) influence the investments of stakeholders including national governments and development funders.

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Water security has a critical role to play in preserving ecosystems, including those in urban areas. Through an in-depth case study of Lusaka, Zambia, this Topic Brief explores how public authorities and their partners can work together to identify and respond effectively to risk by developing systems that protect water resources and therefore better plan for, manage, and supply a city.

Communal WASH facilities in Kalshi slum, Dhaka

How can we define high-quality shared sanitation in cities?

What does your ideal toilet look like? Gold-plated, maybe musical? Or a loo with a view? Whatever your personal idiosyncrasies, it’s unlikely that you’re imagining a toilet that you are forced to share with hundreds of other people throughout the day. But for that’s the reality for millions of people living in densely-populated urban areas […]


Aerial footage from Maputo

New film: helping cities improve access to water and sanitation

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas: with much of the urban growth expected to take place in developing regions, particularly Africa. As a result, managing urbanisation has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. People are moving to cities in search of economic opportunities […]


How can city officials plan (and pay) for sanitation improvements in their municipality?

This Policy Brief summarises a literature review that explored the costs of various sanitation technologies.

The review indicates that conventional sewer systems are the most expensive urban sanitation solution, followed by systems based on septic tanks, ventilated improved pits (VIP), urine-diverting dry toilets (UDDT), then pour-flush pit latrines. Simplified sewer systems may cost less than both conventional sewer systems and septic tank-based systems.

Cost reporting methodologies are inconsistent, and few studies provide data on lifecycle costs for the full urban sanitation chain.

Building sanitation cost databases at country or city level could be useful for investment planning.

This literature review was completed by Loïc Daudey. See open access: Daudey, L. 2017 ‘The cost of urban sanitation solutions: a literature review’, Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development http://washdev.iwaponline.com/content/early/2017/10/19/washdev.2017.058

Workshop held to share and discuss findings of research in Rangpur, Chittagong and Dhaka

On the 27th January, high-level stakeholders from three cities (Dhaka, Chittagong and Rangpur) in Bangladesh came together to discuss the findings of a research project commissioned by WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative and delivered by ITN-BUET. This project assessed how Bangladeshi City Corporations deliver sanitation services to their citizens and explains how the external environment, […]