WSUP has been working to catalyse the Ghanaian market for improved sanitation through introducing and selling affordable and desirable products. While it sounds simple, efforts to sell various sanitation products in Ga West (in Greater Accra) and Kumasi were thwarted by overarching issues that prevented potential customers from purchasing and installing sanitation products in their homes.

Using quotes from residents of Ga West and Kumasi as discussion points, this report explores the financial, social, legal and physical hurdles to improving household sanitation in Ghana. We demonstrate the impact that such a ‘disabling’ environment can have on market-based programmes and make suggestions for practical activities that WSUP and other actors could pursue to ease the path to the market for safe sanitation products in the future:

  1. Incentivise product and business development to reduce costs
  2. Reduce dependence on public toilets as primary sanitation facilities
  3. Enforce existing by-laws in a sensitive manner
  4. Target and inform landlords about investing in sanitation
  5. Increase local government funding for sanitation activities
  6. Tailor financial mechanisms to be more inclusive
  7. Apply subsidies carefully to avoid distorting the market

Is slum sanitation likely to require major subsidy?

Improving sanitation in slum communities is a complex challenge. Particularly challenging is working out how it can be financed. By Guy Norman, WSUP’s Director of Research and Evaluation Now if you believe that subsidy is a Bad Thing or just ain’t ever gonna happen, you might approach slum sanitation by first assessing what slumdwellers are […]


What is the market like for pro-poor, safe emptying services in Kisumu, Kenya?

In Kisumu, Kenya, the majority of households rely on pit latrines but most pit emptiers do not work safely – which is bad for the customer, the neighbourhood, and the emptiers themselves. This lack of adequate services is an opportunity for those who can deliver safely managed sanitation services to customers, including those in low-income […]

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.

Supporting the development of the National Sanitation Authority in Ghana so it can co-ordinate the push to achieve pro-poor sanitation across the country

This Policy Brief provides recommendations based on research conducted to feed into the development of the Government of Ghana’s proposed National Sanitation Authority.

While the exact shape of the NSA is still being debated by the Cabinet of the GoG, this is an  opportunity to better align and streamline the sanitation activities currently performed by several governmental and non-governmental bodies.

We recommend that the GoG move forward in establishing the NSA, resourced appropriately at national, regional and district levels so that it can achieve pro-poor sanitation across the country.

This research was led by IMC Worldwide; an earlier review of international comparative models can be found here.

WSUP at the UNC Water & Health Conference, 2018

Next week, WSUP will be discussing inclusive citywide sanitation, designing practice-relevant WASH research, and how to support the development of sanitation businesses at the Water & Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy, at the University of North Carolina. The Water & Health Conference will take place from 29 October – 2 November, exploring global issues […]

Could a new ‘Sanitation Development Fee’ improve sanitation for low-income urban Kenyans?

Kenya’s National Water Master Plan envisions 80% national sewerage coverage by 2030 – ambitious, as only 35% of urban Kenyans currently have access to basic sanitation. Motivated and influential stakeholders like the Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB), the body in charge of overseeing national water and sewerage policies and strategies, have a financial mountain to […]

Evaluating the willingness of Kenyan water utility customers to pay a little bit extra on their water bill to support slum sanitation.

This Policy Brief explores the main factors that influence willingness to pay (WTP) among utility customers to pay a hypothetical sanitation surcharge. These factors included: trust that the money would be spent correctly; perceived own-benefit from slum sanitation improvement; feelings of solidarity with slumdwellers; and satisfaction with water and sanitation services.

Median WTP was 100 Kenya shillings (Ksh) per month, around $1. If applied across all of Kenya’s 91 utilities, this could potentially raise up to 1.6 billion Ksh annually, around $16 million.

This research was conducted by Aquaya with support from University of California Berkeley.

Full findings can be found in “Cross-subsidies for improved sanitation in low income settlements: assessing the willingness to pay of water utility customers in Kenyan cities”, World Development (March 2019), Vol.115, pp.160-177.


To generate evidence that supports development of the recently introduced sanitation surcharge in Ga West and a similar surcharge enacted in Akuapem North, such that they prove effective in terms of revenue generation, and cost-effective and pro-poor in terms of expenditure. To generate evidence that will enable other Ghanaian municipalities (e.g. Kumasi) to consider replication of this model.


  • Policymakers’ acceptance and approval of pro-poor sanitation surcharge have failed to translate into effective implementation of the policy, mainly as a result of lack of commitment and a failure to appoint somebody to champion and coordinate the implementation process.
  • Level of compliance with property rate payment is low in Ga West, mainly as a result of the failure of the Assembly to demand payment
  • Property owners’ support for the pro-poor sanitation policy was found to be fairly high in the two municipalities but quite low in the Kumasi Metropolis
  • For the sanitation surcharge to receive popular support, Assemblies need to address issues of public mistrust and negative perceptions

Next steps

It is recommended that the municipalities:

  • Prepare an implementation strategy for the surcharges
  • Improve their performance in collecting the property rate from households
  • Revise the flat rate charged in Akuapem North
  • Effectively communicate and engage with taxpayers about annual revenue and expenditure

Read more

Mind the gap: Investigating the funding shortfall in urban sanitation

Who should pay for sanitation? The consumers who use the service, the utilities in charge of providing it, or governments who are responsible for ensuring citizens can access safe facilities? Consumers pay to connect their homes to a sewer network, utilities use that cash to cover the costs of staffing, upkeep, operations and maintenance and […]