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Our approach

We take a holistic, city/town-wide approach to improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in urban areas. This takes into account a range of development issues, from planning to land tenure.

In cities and small towns alike, we work with residents of poor and informal settlements to ensure their voices are heard when new services are being designed, implemented or monitored, to make sure their needs are addressed. We support water utilities and municipal authorities to develop approaches that are inclusive, affordable and flexible for poor people.

We support these authorities and financial institutions in encouraging local private sector participation in the delivery of sanitation services and products, including for faecal sludge management.

Our city/town-wide approach has five guiding principles:

  • Integrated policy, practice and advocacy: Our urban work exemplifies our approach of integrating service delivery with influencing work, in order to achieve our goal of universal access.
  • Inclusive city/town-wide services: As always, we work closely with communities to make sure services meet their needs and behaviour changes are sustainable.
  • Context-led strategic choices: We believe it is useful for urban planners and infrastructure engineers to consider the local context and environmental and water-resource concerns.
  • Stakeholder relationships and collaboration: We work with water utilities to develop services that reach the poorest and most marginalised people, while also covering their costs. We also work with organisations in other sectors to consider urban planning, land tenure and social structures in water, sanitation and hygiene improvements.
  • Priority to sanitation and hygiene: Sanitation has been severely neglected in most urban areas, especially the poorest communities. City and town sanitation has life-changing benefits for both individuals and urban areas as a whole.

Our vision is to see urban authorities able to plan, deliver and monitor inclusive, affordable and sustainable water and sanitation services for all by 2030.

WaterAid is currently seeking Expressions of Interest for city sanitation planning. Find out more here >