Access to water and sanitation: the missing link in urban climate adaptation

Ahead of COP26, WSUP has released a new report highlighting the importance of water and sanitation services in helping cities adapt to climate change. Drawing on evidence from seven countries the report, entitled The missing link in climate adaptation: How improved access to water and sanitation is helping cities adapt to climate change finds that […]


For the poorest urban residents, one of the most significant ways in which climate change is affecting their lives is through access to water and sanitation.

In sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, water and sanitation service providers are struggling to respond to the needs of communities, and climate change is making it harder for these providers to expand services to keep pace with urbanisation. This challenge represents a major threat towards the ability of cities to adapt to climate change and could compromise their future sustainability.

This report analyses the impacts of climate change on access to water and sanitation across cities and towns in seven countries. It outlines the challenges that service providers are facing and documents initiatives that are taking place to tackle the issue. Based on this analysis, WSUP presents four recommendations for helping water and sanitation providers to tackle the threat caused by climate change.

Building resilience faster: Join us for World Water Week 2021

How can water help us tackle the world’s greatest challenges and build resilient cities faster? Join us virtually for four sessions during the week to find out. As the world faces multiple challenges from increasing urban populations to climate change and with the SDG deadline fast approaching, finding ways to improve the resilience of cities […]


New video shows how a citywide plan aims to tackle Malindi’s dirty secret: sanitation

Malindi, popular for its beautiful beaches and a celebrated tourist town, has a dirty secret. Three-quarters of the city’s 310,000 residents have no access to safely managed sanitation. Residents are forced to rely on illegal and unsafe pit-emptying services and the waste that is collected is then dumped at an unregulated municipal dumpsite or disposed […]


The residents of the coastal town of Malindi, popular for its beautiful beaches, largely depend on on-site sanitation. There is no waste treatment plant and only 25% of the waste is safely managed. As a result, 90% of hand dug wells are contaminated causing serious health risks in the communities.

Leaders in Kilifi County Government and the water and sanitation utility, Malindi Water and Sewerage Company (MAWASCO) have recognised the urgent need to improve the sanitation and solid waste challenges in the city and have created an ambitious plan to tackle this problem.

This summary report shares the vision for city-wide inclusive sanitation (CWIS) and the developed action and investment plans.

Can new pan-African policy guidelines help bring about national sanitation programmes?

With 72% of the 962 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa lacking access to basic sanitation, and governments struggling to increase access, new action is required to accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. This situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, further underscoring the need for African governments to meet their national, […]


Taking water, sanitation and hygiene out of the silo: new report builds the case for integrated urban development

Water, sanitation and hygiene improvements need to be integrated into wider urban development initiatives to have maximum reach and impact, according to a new report published by WSUP and Arquitectura sin Fronteras. Drawing on evidence from cities such as Maputo, Accra, Nairobi and Antananarivo, the report, entitled Integrated Slum Upgrading: how can we link water […]


Marginalised urban communities are often characterised by three things: complexity, interdependence of challenges, and constant evolution.

The sheer numbers of people living close together in poorly planned communities can make improving the quality of life extremely difficult. The rapid rate of urbanisation – by 2050, the number of people living in African cities will double to 1.5 billion – means that there is no such thing as the status quo. Every month, every year, unplanned urban settlements get larger, and more complex.

In urban environments, issues such as water access, drainage, health, street design and solid waste management are all inextricably linked. Poor drainage leads to flooding, causing damage to flimsy sanitation facilities. Rubbish collected in drainage canals can exacerbate the issue and lead to stagnant water which becomes a breeding ground for disease. Sanitation facilities cannot be safely emptied if poor road access makes it impossible for emptying services to operate.

Tackling these issues in an integrated manner makes intuitive sense – but too often it just doesn’t happen, due to significant barriers such as cost, complexity, and the siloed nature of the development sector.

This report by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) and Arquitectura sin Fronteras (also known as ASF-España, referred to in the report as ASF-E), examines how to overcome this immense challenge, from the perspective of water and sanitation services.

The report demonstrates why water and sanitation improvements can be more effective when combined with other areas of urban development, and analyses how, in practice, this integration can occur.

Drawing on evidence from cities such as Maputo, Accra, Nairobi and Antananarivo, the report finds that integrating WASH with wider slum development can improve the overall impact, and the ease of delivery, of WASH services.