To ensure that cities build water and sanitation services that are climate resilient, WSUP focuses on two key areas: strengthening service providers, and building more effective regulation and financial planning.
These two elements will improve the likelihood of the poorest receiving safe water and sanitation services even as droughts and flooding continue to increase in frequency.
Making best use of scarce water resources
In many cities, around 50% of water can be lost before it even reaches customers. This so-called non-revenue water has a crippling effect on the availability of water, as well as utilities’ income streams.
As droughts become longer and more frequent, utilities must take steps to reduce leakages and make better use of the water that they have available. In Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, WSUP supports the city’s utility, JIRAMA, to reduce water loss and improve water availability for hundreds of thousands of low-income residents. As a result, JIRAMA has been able to save around three million m3 of water – enough to serve an additional 300,000 people per year.
Reducing contamination caused by poor sanitation
Encouraging low-income residents to empty their pit latrines prior to the rainy season reduces the amount of faecal waste flowing into streets and spreading through communities during periods of flooding.
In Lusaka, WSUP created a toilet database to provide information on when pit latrines need to be emptied, helping city authorities implement climate-resilient measures that prevent the spread of cholera in the event of flooding. In addition, WSUP helps communities to improve the design of toilets so that they are raised from the ground and are less likely to overflow in times of heavy rains.
Improving drainage to minimise impacts of flooding
By better managing heavy rainfall in a city, we can avoid the damage to communities caused by floodwater particularly in low-income communities where infrastructure can be weak. In Maputo, we have worked with the city council, CMM, to improve drainage around low-income communities.
The right national policies, regulation and financing can make a significant difference to water and sanitation service coverage in low-income communities. In Kenya, we helped the water regulator introduce new measures to ensure that serving low-income customers is no longer a choice for utilities, but a regulatory requirement. And in Bangladesh, we supported the national government to introduce a new framework determining who is responsible for delivering nonsewered sanitation services, impacting how City Corporations prioritise action in this area.
Research to support climate resilience
Our research also has a role to play improving climate resilience. A recent study assessed the impact of extending services to low-income communities on city-wide water demand.
Importantly, findings of the study suggested that many thousands of low-income consumers in Nairobi and Accra could benefit from an improved level of service – a yard tap connection – with only a small increase in demand at the city level; in other words, water scarcity is not an excuse for limiting services to low-income communities.