Category Archives: Policy

UNC Water Institute WASH Research Policy Digests

These useful UNC research digests discuss a key article and include literature reviews on the selected topic:

Issue #1, July 2015: Sanitation Subsidies
Our first Digest deals with the difficult issue of when and how to use subsidies for on-site sanitation.

Issue #2, October 2015: WaSH in Healthcare Facilities
Issue two of the WasH Policy Research Digest digs in to the critical issue of WaSH in health care facilities, including a detailed review of WHO and UNICEF’s 2015 report on the topic and a synthesis of literature and solutions to address its impact on infection, mortality, maternal and neonatal health.

Issue #3, March 2016: Handpump Functionality Monitoring
The third issue of the WaSH Policy Research Digest focuses on handpump functionality monitoring. This issue of the Digest explores recent literature on this topic, focusing on policy implications, recommendations, and a call for standardized functionality measurements.

Issue #4, August 2016: Sanitation and Nutrition
Our fourth digest addresses sanitation and nutrition. This issue explores recent literature and the emerging evidence base on the connection between sanitation, nutritional outcomes, and child stunting.

SNV publications on urban sanitation

SNV’s Urban Sanitation & Hygiene for Health and Development (USHHD) programme works with municipal governments to develop safe, sustainable city-wide services. The programme integrates insights in WASH governance, investment and finance, behavioural change communication and management of the sanitation service chain. We engage private sector, civil society organisations, users and local authorities to improve public health and development opportunities in their city.

As part of our USHHD programme, we have a long term partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney focused on knowledge and learning to improve practice and contribute to the WASH sector knowledge and evidence. Our recent collaborative efforts have resulted in the following papers:

Are we doing the right thing? Critical questioning for city sanitation planning (2016)
Cities are clear examples of complex and rapidly changing systems, particularly in countries where urban population growth and economic development continue apace, and where the socio-political context strongly influences the directions taken. The concept of double-loop learning can be usefully applied to city sanitation planning. This paper prompts practitioners, policy-makers and development agencies to reflect on their approaches to city sanitation planning and the assumptions that underlie them.
Download full paper

Exploring legal and policy aspects of urban sanitation and hygiene (2016)
During 2012-2014, SNV did four country reviews of legal arrangements for urban sanitation and hygiene in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Based on these experiences, this guide was developed to provide support and guidance for WASH practitioners undertaking a scan of legal arrangements to inform the design (use of frameworks and tools) and delivery (advocacy for improvements) of urban sanitation and hygiene programs.
Download full paper

A guide to septage transfer stations (2016)
Septage transfer stations have the potential to significantly reduce the amount of faecal sludge entering the environment by providing a local solution for septage disposal. Localised transfer stations shorten the time required for local operators to collect and transport septage, and they will be able to use smaller vacuum tanks that can navigate the densely populated residential areas. This guide provides information on the salient aspects of selecting, designing, building, operating and maintaining a septage transfer station.
Download full paper

Financing sanitation for cities and towns (2014)
Planning and financing for sanitation in cities and towns in developing countries is often ad hoc and piecemeal. Stronger capacity to plan financing for sanitation infrastructure (and services) for the long term will lead to better outcomes. Planning for adequate long-term services requires consideration of the complete sanitation service chain over the lifecycle of the associated service infrastructure. This paper focuses on access to the upfront finance and other lumpy finance needs for initial investment and for rehabilitation and/or replacement as physical systems approach their end of life.
Download full paper

For further information about these papers or the organisations, please contact:
Antoinette Kome (SNV) –
Juliet Willetts (ISF) on

Monitoring Africa’s sanitation commitments

IRC helps AMCOW develop a new process to monitor the N’gor declaration

At the 2016 Africa Water Week, civil society called on the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) to honour the region’s commitments on water, sanitation and hygiene, including those agreed in the 2015 N’gor declaration. The four partner organisations in Watershed – empowering citizens, Akvo, IRC, Simavi and Wetlands International, were among those that endorsed the collective statement submitted to AMCOW by the African Network for Water (ANEW).

Progress especially on sanitation has so far been poor; only 4% between from 2000 to 2015, according to Al-hassan Adam from End Water Poverty. A recent IRC/WSUP finance brief stated that only eight African countries provide data on sanitation expenditure. All of them are falling behind on their N’gor declaration commitment to spend 0.5% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on sanitation. Exerting pressure to speed up progress on sanitation is an obvious task for those civil society organisations (CSOs) that Watershed aims to support.

Next to lobbying AMCOW to honour its sanitation commitments, IRC is also advising the ministerial council on the development of a new process to monitor the N’gor declaration. The aim of the new monitoring process is to create reflective dialogue processes at country and subregional levels and strengthen mechanisms for accountability to citizens and political leaders informed by evidence.

So far a Regional Action Plan has been developed, and indicators and scoring criteria have been reviewed through a series of sub-regional consultations led by AMCOW in Nairobi, Dakar and Johannesburg in May and June 2016. See below an example of an indicator with scoring criteria.

For more information, read the background paper prepared by Alana Potter.

Ngor indicator typology

This news item was originally published on the IRC website.

DFID should ensure sustainability of its WASH programmes – independent review

Richard Gledhill  ICAI

Richard Gledhill

By Richard Gledhill, ICAI lead commissioner for WASH review

62.9 million people – almost the population of the UK – that’s how many people in developing countries DFID claimed to have reached with WASH interventions between 2011 and 2015.

It’s an impressive figure. And – in our first ever ‘impact review’ – it’s a figure the Independent Commission for Aid Impact found to be based on credible evidence.

We assessed the results claim made by DFID about WASH, testing the evidence and visiting projects to see the results for ourselves. We  concluded that the claim was credible – calculated using appropriate methods and conservative assumptions.

But what does reaching 62.9 million people really mean? Have lives been transformed? And have the results been sustainable?

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Barbara Frost on the rise and rise of WaterAid

Barbara Frost on the rise and rise of WaterAid | Source: Third Sector, April 22 2016 |

The chief executive has led the charity for a decade of almost uninterrupted success and has escaped the fire directed at others. 


Barbara Frost

In 1972 Barbara Frost left Keele University after two years studying psychology and social sciences, and went on what was intended to be a gap year. She took the so-called magic bus to Istanbul, continued by public transport on the hippy trail to India and Nepal, and ended up living in a commune in Australia. She didn’t come back to England for 24 years.

During that time she made rapid progress in public service jobs, developed homecare services in New South Wales and worked for Oxfam, Save the Children and ActionAid in Mozambique and Malawi. And when she finally returned to England in the mid-1990s it was to head the charity Action on Development and Disability – based, by coincidence, where she grew up, near Frome in Somerset.

She’s now been chief executive for a decade of one of the UK’s most successful and highly regarded charities, which works to provide water, sanitation and hygiene in 31 developing countries. Since 2010 she has also led WaterAid International, the federation set up to coordinate the UK charity’s relations with WaterAids that have sprung up in the US, Canada, Australia, Sweden and India.

Read the complete article.

USAID’S Public-Private Partnerships A data picture and review of business engagement

USAID’S Public-Private Partnerships: A data picture and review of business engagement, 2016. Brookings Institution.

Authors: George M. Ingram, Anne E. Johnson, Helen Moser.

This paper provides a quantitative and qualitative presentation of USAID’s public-private partnerships and business sector participation in those PPPs. The analysis offered here is based on USAID’s PPP data set covering 2001-2014 and interviews with executives of 17 U.S. corporations that have engaged in PPPs with USAID.


Urban sanitation: a quest for the silver bullet

2015 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are behind us. The new global goals for sustainable development are expected to inspire and create a new determination for all of us. What has IRC learned during 2015 and how are we moving ahead in 2016? 

Blog by Erick Baetings, Senior sanitation specialist, IRC


Haiphong City, Viet Nam. Photo: Erick Baetings, IRC

Although a lot has been achieved the world has fallen short on the MDG sanitation target, leaving 2.4 billion people without access to improved sanitation facilities. Globally, it is estimated that 82 per cent of the urban population now use improved sanitation facilities, compared with 51 per cent of the rural population.

What is the case for urban sanitation?

Urban growth

Rapid urbanisation in many parts of the developing world is putting increasing strain on the ability of municipalities to deliver critical services, such as water and sanitation. More than half the world’s population (54 per cent) live in urban areas. Urbanisation combined with the overall growth of the world’s population is projected to add another 2.5 billion people to the urban populations by 2050, with close to 90 percent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. As a result, many developing countries will face numerous challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations. In a number of regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, population growth has already outpaced gains in sanitation coverage in urban areas.

Inclusion and equality

Inclusive and equitable access to improved sanitation facilities is still far away. Inequalities between richest and poorest 20 per cent of the population are found in all regions but may vary according to the type and level of service. Inequalities hinder efforts to reduce poverty and to stimulate economic growth, resulting in a negative impact on society as a whole. Therefore, ideally, more should be done for the poor than the rich, allowing the gap to narrow and ultimately disappear over time.

Moving beyond toilets and containment

Access to improved sanitation facilities does not necessarily translate into environmentally safe practices as even appropriately captured human waste is often improperly stored, transported, or disposed. To date, global monitoring has focused primarily on the containment of human excreta, where a sanitation facility is considered to be improved if it hygienically separates human excreta from human contact. This is now considered to be grossly inadequate as it does not address the subsequent management of faecal waste along the entire sanitation service chain, from containment through emptying, transport, treatment, and reuse or disposal. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) states that over 2 billion people in urban areas use toilets connected to onsite septic tanks or latrine pits that are not safely emptied or that discharge raw sewage into open drains or surface waters.

The challenge is to keep up with the growing urban population, to ensure equitable access to improved sanitation services, and to address the entire sanitation service chain.

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