Pathogen pathways and urban planning

Improving public health is one of the primary reasons for investing in sanitation infrastructure like sewer networks or sludge treatment plants. This makes sense: minimising contact with faeces almost certainly means that fewer people will get sick from diseases like diarrhoea or cholera. Tools such as Shit Flow Diagrams provide an overview of a city’s […]


Creating a methodology so city-level sanitation investment decisions can be supported by a better understanding of pathogen flows

This Policy Brief summarises an initial research study which developed a conceptual model of faecal pathogen pathways in urban environments.

The proposed model uses a “source-pathway-receptor” approach: it considers release of pathogens into the environment, transport in the environment, and eventual human exposure.

The model can potentially provide a framework for comparing the relative impacts of different sanitation options on health; the next step should be to test the approach in a real city.

This research was led by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). See open access: Mills, F., Willetts, J., Petterson, S., Mitchell, C. and Norman, G. 2018 ‘Faecal pathogen flows and their public health risks in urban environments: A proposed approach to inform sanitation planning’  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health http://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph/  

Dhaka survey results now online

In many cities, there is a lack of good-quality data on WASH coverage levels in low-income communities. And that’s a problem if you’re trying to improve slum WASH in that city! So over the period 2017-2018, WSUP is carrying out citywide WASH surveys in at least one city in each country in which we have […]


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.

Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) has launched its own policy and operational guidelines to facilitate implementation of Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) activities within the city. GVMC  intends to foster FSSM sector, among others, to achieve universal and safe environmental sanitation leading up to outcomes on public health and environment.

The Government of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in 2014 with the ambitious aim to ensure hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the nation by the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth in October 2019. This document aims to build on existing knowledge by detailing how the challenge of achieving universal sanitation and Open Defecation Free (ODF) status has been approached by Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, presenting nine stepping stones which together constitute a pathway towards citywide ODF status.

Urban utilities are often unwilling to extend or improve services to unserved areas for fear that not enough water is available. This Practice Note introduces an Excel-based modelling tool that projects the water demand implications of slum water improvements in a given city.