Since its inception, WSUP has prioritised working with urban service providers to increase their ability to serve low-income customers.
In the water sector, we have focused on several capacity building activities including: helping utilities to reduce the losses caused by theft, leakage and poor billing (non-revenue water, or NRW); supporting utilities to create low-income customer units which are wholly focused on serving those from the poorest areas of cities; improving the pipe networks by extending the pipework or introducing new valves or new pipe materials; and, by helping utilities provide more water into the system from new or improved water sources or treatment plants.
In sanitation, we have worked with municipalities to develop services for non-sewered parts of the city – with a particular focus on emptying of pit latrines and septic tanks, as well as the construction of shared sanitation blocks
Reduction of non-revenue water (NRW)
NRW is water that does not generate revenue for a utility, and high levels of NRW can drastically affect a utility’s ability to invest in improved services. We have worked in all of the six countries where we have a permanent operation to increase the water available to the utility, saving millions of cubic metres of water.
Setting up low-income customer units
We have worked with utilities to incorporate low-income customers into their strategic planning, making the business case for improved services to be directed towards the poorest residents of the city, and therefore better fulfilling the utilities mandates.
This has led to the creation of dedicated low-income customer unit in many utilities, developing services which are affordable for low-income customers, yet financially viable for the utility.
In some situations, these low-income units have grown to become significant commercial operations for the utility.
Supporting small-scale sanitation operators
The private sector can play a valuable role in the collection of faecal waste from pit latrines and septic tanks. However, sometimes the market is under-developed and requires our external intervention to overcome the obstacles. WSUP has found that small businesses and entrepreneurs benefit from training to help them provide suitable services to vulnerable households whilst also building their businesses. We have worked to build the capacity of these operators in Bangladesh, Kenya and Mozambique.
Helping municipalities develop communal sanitation services
In crowded urban settlements, there simply isn’t the space – or funding – for each household to have their own toilet.
Instead, well-managed shared toilets can be a solution and so in cities such as Maputo, Mozambique, we have worked with the municipality to help them design appropriate sanitation facilities. We have also worked to embed the capacity within the community to ensure that the toilets are sustainably operated and managed.