What is water worth?

To mark World Water Day, 22 March, WSUP is shining a light on the value of water: the theme for this year’s campaign. Water brings value in so many ways, whether it is through education, employment, nutrition, health, or environmental protection. Safeguarding this precious resource for the benefit of everyone is critical. Watch the video […]


The stepping stones for sustainable water

For the residents of Soalandy, a commune in Madagascar, a new laundry block with access to clean and drinkable water is bringing enormous value. But ensuring that the service is sustainable is so much more than bricks and mortar. It is about community buy-in, training and community-led management. The theme of this year’s World Water […]


New water systems of enormous value to growing towns in Ghana

A key trend of urbanisation across Africa is villages evolving into small towns but lacking the accompanying investment in basic services. The Ashanti region, Ghana’s most populated region, is an example of this challenge. As a result, whole communities lack access to clean water. To address this issue, WSUP has been working with The One […]


Valuing water: the importance of clean water for garment industry workers

The readymade garment industry is the lifeline of the Bangladesh economy. Yet, the workers in these factories who live in nearby low-income communities lack access to clean water, safe sanitation, and handwashing facilities. Investing in these basic services at the community level can bring clear benefits for businesses – a healthier workforce means better productivity. […]


Women and girls living in Kenya’s low-income settlements frequently lack access to basic menstrual hygiene materials.

This Practice Note details the development of a business model for low-cost sanitary products in Naivasha, the setbacks encountered, and what WSUP has learnt from the pilot intervention.

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.

In cities across Africa, rapidly expanding low-income communities (LICs) pose unique technical and social challenges to utilities in expanding services – but they also present an opportunity to expand the customer base and generate revenues. COVID-19 is placing huge additional pressures on the financial viability of utilities, exacerbating the need for innovative service delivery models to this segment of the customer base. In the context of short and long-term challenges posed by COVID-19, water utilities must take every measure available to improve the efficiency of operations: service quality and attention to the customer will be even more important; greater control will be required over the distribution network; and billing and revenues will need to be maximized to support the bottom line.

Smart Water Meters are a new technology with the potential to assist utilities in this process of transformation. The model offers greater control for the customer, through a flexible prepayment tailored to the spending habits of low-income households; and greater control for the utility, enabling real-time data on water demand across the supply area, and supporting a shift from reactive firefighting to preventative planning. Pilots of the technology to date have produced good results; however, more testing is needed, particularly in LICs. One project expected to inform the evidence base is a pilot of 500 smart meters recently underway in Watamu, in the Kenyan district of Malindi.

This article is part of a review by The Veolia Institute – check out the full publication here.