What does ‘quality’ sanitation mean in low-income urban areas?

By Sam Drabble, Head of Evaluation, Research & Learning Broadly speaking, when we advocate for investment in sanitation, it is because we are trying to achieve two critically important aims: improve human health, and improve wellbeing or quality of life. But to what extent are sanitation interventions actually achieving these aims? In many cases, the […]


This discussion paper explores how high-quality sanitation can be achieved in low-income urban areas in developing contexts. It is based on findings from four research projects conducted under, or in association with, WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative 2016–2020 (USRI), funded by DFID.

The four research projects considered here are:

  1. The Faecal Pathogen Flows study in Dhaka, Bangladesh — aiming to track and model how faecal pathogens move through urban low-income communities (LICs), as a tool to support sanitation intervention planning in developing contexts.
  2. The MapSan study carried out in Maputo, Mozambique — one of the largest and most rigorous studies ever conducted of the health impacts of an urban sanitation intervention.
  3. The QUISS study — based on large-scale surveys in Bangladesh, Ghana and Kenya, aiming to identify minimum standards for high-quality shared sanitation in urban contexts, and workable indicators of shared sanitation quality.
  4. The Clean Team evaluation — assessing customer experience among customers of Clean Team Ghana, a container-based sanitation enterprise.
Illegal water connections Biafra, Nairobi

Citywide access to water and sanitation services in Kenya

Clean, piped water brings dignity to people, reduces living costs, frees up time – and crucially, given the situation right now, is a critical defence against infectious diseases. With the support of The Coca-Cola Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) has been working with Kenyan city authorities to […]


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 […]


Chamanculo sanitation block, Maputo

Does improved sanitation mean healthier kids?

The MapSan trial was a major 4-year research project which aimed to evaluate the health impacts of a shared sanitation intervention delivered by WSUP in the slums of Maputo. It’s the largest ever high-rigour study of the health impacts of urban sanitation. And now the long-awaited results are out. By Guy Norman, WSUP’s Director of […]


UNC Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy, 2019

Join us at the 2019 Water and Health Conference to discuss how to assess WaSH services citywide, what role shared sanitation could have in bringing safely managed sanitation to all, and our experience supporting the development of inclusive sanitation markets. Findings from several Urban Sanitation Research Initiative projects will also be presented by our research […]


Running Dry front cover

WSUP has identified five myths which are stopping investors, agencies and policymakers from properly addressing the inadequate access to essential water and sanitation services in cities across Africa and South Asia.

 

Myth one: Struggling utilities are unable to serve the poorest

The reality: Much-maligned, publicly owned utilities can deliver services for the poorest communities.

Myth two: Water should be free

The reality: Water is a human right, but people should still pay for it. Even the poorest.

Myth three: Communities should be responsible for their own services

The reality: Community ownership can result in poor services. We should be aiming for community buy-in instead.

Myth four: We should only focus on household facilities

The reality: Community sanitation facilities can help bridge the gap when household facilities are not viable.

Myth five: Building toilets alone will solve the sanitation crisis

The reality: Solving the waste management conundrum is bigger than just building toilets.

 

WSUP wins AMCOW AfricaSan award for our work in Mozambique

WSUP has won the Inclusion Award from AfricaSan in recognition of our work to improve shared sanitation services in Maputo, Mozambique. The AMCOW AfricaSan Awards aim to raise the profile of sanitation and hygiene in development agendas; promote excellence in leadership and innovation; and put the spotlight on bold initiatives and innovations that inspire action. […]


A public toilet in Kumasi, Ghana

New guide to make toilets better for women and girls by WaterAid, WSUP and UNICEF

The requirements of women and girls are too often ignored in the planning and design of toilets, leaving them unable to use the toilet where and when needed. Women have different sanitation requirements, for instance during menstruation, pregnancy and after menopause, that should be considered when designing and building public toilets. Of particular importance is […]