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.

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.

For urban sanitation systems to function safely, at scale, over time, and inclusively, they must be organized to support three functions: responsibilityaccountability, and resource planning and management.

This short publication looks at the function of resource planning and management, drawing on a desk review of over 40 urban sanitation investments in twenty-eight countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For urban sanitation systems to function safely, at scale, over time, and inclusively, they must be organized to support three functions: responsibilityaccountability, and resource planning and management.

In this paper, we explore the accountability mechanisms that can be applied to the different service provision mandate structures identified in our parallel paper on responsibilities.

For urban sanitation systems to function safely, at scale, over time, and inclusively, they must be organized to support three functions: responsibilityaccountability, and resource planning and management.

This short publication looks at the function of responsibility: the extent to which sanitation authorities are clearly mandated.

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.

Core to WSUP’s guiding strategy is the belief that market-based solutions will contribute significantly to sustainable progress in tackling the world’s biggest challenge: water and sanitation for all.

However, financially viable business models targeting the poorest residents are just not very many.

Our work with local service providers, social enterprises, and WASH-driven start-ups, seeks to de-risk entry into the water and sanitation market, and drive growth for the business models with the potential to create lasting change.

The ideas outlined in this report explores how social enterprises and sustainable investors can work together to make SDG 6 a reality.

Read more about this report on NextBillion.

Gender inequity at the level of policy, regulation and management limits the presence, voice, participation and power of women decision-makers. These gender-based inequities can then be perpetuated throughout the sanitation sector, as the needs of women and girls are inadequately addressed by programs and policies that are designed largely by men. A seemingly simple way to address women’s access to sanitation and related issues is to increase the representation of women in firms and public bodies that design products, services and interventions in the WaSH sector.

We hypothesize that increasing diversity in the design and development of products and services will help to ensure that all users are well represented, and the unique needs and problems of each user type will be more likely to be addressed.

Under this hypothesis, addressing the unique and pressing needs of women and girls in the sanitation sector requires a look behind the curtain, interrogating the internal workings of the organisations that make and implement sanitation policy, regulation and services.

Our project aims to do this in the Kenyan sanitation sector, through two objectives: (i) identify the barriers that women face in attaining decision-making posts in sanitation-related public institutions in Kenya and (ii) interrogate whether women prioritize different things when it comes to access to sanitation, as compared to male leaders in this field.

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.

 

This publication describes the methodology used by WSUP in citywide surveys of water and sanitation service levels in 7 cities in 2017/2018.

These were surveys designed to give an assessment of water and sanitation service levels across the city, with a particular focus on low-income areas. Surveys were relatively low-cost with total sample size in each city ranging from 600 to 2400 households. Design and delivery of surveys of this type requires multiple decisions, and we have produced this publication in the view that this recent WSUP experience may be useful to other organisations who wish to carry out low-cost citywide surveys of WASH service levels.

We present our experience as adaptable guidance, not as an inflexible recipe: each survey will of course have different aims and constraints.

Download the summary poster in Nakuru.