Gender inequity at the level of policy, regulation and management limits the voice and participation of women decision-makers and can perpetuate inequities throughout the sanitation sector. To address this, the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative aims to analyse gender inequity in educational and professional settings of sanitation-related organisations.

  • Among staff at sanitation-related public-sector institutions in Kenya, a large majority of both men and women recognise that women have different needs and priorities when it comes to sanitation.
  • Both men and women showed awareness of the needs of women regarding particular attributes of latrines, such as menstrual hygiene management (MHM) facilities or physical safety.
  • A more participatory approach allowed more gendered perspectives and seemed to lead to gender-sensitive programming and policies; an infrastructure-led approach, focusing more on hardware installation and less on participation, led to less gender-sensitive programming and policies.

This research was led by Athena Infonomics; more information about the project and other reports can be found here.

Gender inequity at the level of policy, regulation and management limits the voice and participation of women decision-makers and can perpetuate inequities throughout the sanitation sector. To address this, the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative aims to analyse gender inequity in educational and professional settings of sanitation-related organisations.

  • Women working at sanitation-related public-sector institutions in Kenya reported challenges at work, which limited their professional aspirations, their voice and their influence on policies.
  • Barriers exist at all stages of career development: girls face gender bias in school when pursuing technical degrees; young career-women must balance greater familial obligations than men; and mid-career women lack many of the networking opportunities that men have.
  • Bullying and sexual harassment of women have not been adequately addressed thus far, leaving some women with little support and few alternatives.

It is crucial for the sanitation sector to meet the basic needs of their female staff, such as:

  1. Full access to MHM-friendly latrines at all sites, including waste treatment plants and field sites.
  2. Maternity and paternity leave, flexible scheduling and lactation rooms for new mothers
  3. For young mothers and fathers, create nearby or on-site alternatives to workshops and conferences that require travel. When travel is unavoidable, make arrangements for young mothers to return quickly in an emergency.
  4. Provide PPE that are designed for women, for all jobs that require protective gear.
  5. Create a culture that is intolerant to sexual jokes in professional settings. Create confidential systems that protect victims of sexual harassment, and discourage sexual predators.
  6. Create professional groups, systems and events which allow women to network, mentor and support each other, during hours and in locations that are friendly to women.
  7. Educate managers and staff of the benefits of both gender equity among staff, and equal representation of women and men among management.
  8. Make salary structures and promotion policies transparent and ensure that all employees are considered equally.

This research was led by Athena Infonomics; more information about the project and other reports can be found here.

Experience from SHARE, REACH and the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative

Delivering high-quality research can be challenging. But achieving research uptake – impact on policy or other aspects of the “real world” – is enormously challenging. In low-income contexts the barriers to achieving change can seem profound, in view of economic and capacity limitations. In fact, achieving policy change may not necessarily be more difficult in low-income contexts than in wealthier contexts (for example, Rwanda and Kenya outlawed plastic bags almost overnight, whereas even the most ambitious EU countries set targets 3-5 years into the future). Nonetheless, it’s clear that using research to drive meaningful change is far from straightforward.

This Discussion Paper considers the experience of three ongoing research-into-use programmes: we identify the major challenges we have faced in achieving research uptake, and discuss strategies we are using (or that we might use in future) to overcome those challenges.

All three programmes are core-funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Lead author: IMC Worldwide.

The overall aim of the project is to respond to the Government of Ghana’s interest to establish a National Sanitation Authority (NSA) to prioritise sanitation service delivery and achieve Ghana’s commitment to SDG Goal 6. The Ministry of Sanitation & Water Resources (MSWR) has requested the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative in Ghana to undertake a policy research project to assist in decision-making around the setup of the proposed NSA. The specific objective of the assignment is to provide technical support to the MSWR and other key stakeholders to help decide upon the role/function and structure of the proposed NSA, and its relationship with other institutions.

The decision-making process about the roles and responsibilities of the NSA and the institutional structure is informed by an international review and assessment of the institutional arrangements for the sanitation sector in the following fifteen countries. The aim is to assess how effective these institutional models are and consider their viability and appropriateness within the context for the expectations from existing Ghanaian authorities, utilities, NGOs and civil society.

Africa: Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
South America and Asia: Brazil, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam.

This report presents the findings from these assessments on the assumption that one, or a combination of these examples, is likely to provide the basis for the model to be adopted in Ghana.

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.

This report, part of WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative, explores the background to the urban sanitation sector in Kenya.

Summary of findings:

  • Kenya is one of Africa’s top 10 economies, experiencing strong urban growth amid deep institutional and governance reforms.
  • A minority of urban residents use improved sanitation facilities as per the JMP definition, while wastewater treatment and faecal sludge transport/treatment services are largely inefficient.
  • The legal framework for sanitation remains fragmented and focuses on sewerage services.
  • The policy framework sets high ambitions and recognises a range of solutions and service provision models.
  • There is significant institutional fragmentation and overlap, especially between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.
  • Investments in sanitation for low-income areas are almost entirely donor-funded.
  • Inadequate institutional capacity, inadequate sector financing and insufficient data are major barriers to pro-poor sanitation.

This report, part of WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative, explores the background to the urban sanitation sector in Ghana.

Summary of findings:

  • Ghana is a fast-growing economy that has made notable progress in reducing poverty.
  • Urban infrastructure has not kept pace with cities’ expansion and high levels of rural-urban migration.
  • Only a fraction of urban residents use improved sanitation facilities as per the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) definition, but transport and treatment services are developing.
  • Well-developed legal, policy, and strategy frameworks exist but need to be fully implemented.
  • Sanitation has not been a public funding priority and households bear the bulk of the costs.
  • From lack of prioritisation to insufficient demand and limited supply, barriers to developing pro-poor sanitation services remain significant.
Situation analysis of the urban sanitation sector in Bangladesh

This report, an output of WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative, explores the background to the urban sanitation sector in Bangladesh.

Summary of findings:

  • Bangladesh is a lower middle-income country with high ambitions, but poor infrastructure in urban areas is holding back economic growth.
  • Onsite sanitation is the norm; transport and treatment services for sewage and faecal sludge are under-developed.
  • The legal framework for sanitation is fragmented, but recent progress has been made in developing a draft regulatory framework for faecal sludge management (FSM).
  • There is significant overlap in institutional responsibilities, contributing to the limited supply of FSM services.
  • Funding has focused on rural sanitation, and sewerage services to urban areas.
  • Rapid urbanisation, low decentralisation, lack of demand for and supply of FSM services and lack of investment are all major barriers to pro-poor urban sanitation.
  • Despite challenges, the sector has an opportunity to bring about change.