May 2009 Improving access to water supply and sanitation services for the poor

Water and Sanitation Challenges in Latin America

“Latin America is not homogeneous; it has tremendous gaps: There are big cities, as well as rural areas; there are developed countries like Chile, but also very poor countries … If there is a common feature, it is that the challenges are neither technical nor financial; there are plenty of institutional challenges ... We can contribute more supporting the improvement of institutional issues, as well as financial aspects in terms of operation and maintenance.”

-Interview with Manuel Schiffler, Senior Economist, Latin America and the Caribbean Sustainable Development Department, The World Bank, extracted from “Tribuna del Agua”

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Microfinance Increases Access, Efficiency of Water Services for 60,000 in Rural Kenya
African Water Utilities Develop Service Guidelines for Informal Settlements
Relevance to Decision-Makers Key to Success of New Cost-Benefit Analysis of Sanitation Options
News Media Calls Attention to Sanitation in Indonesia
Prime Minister of Lao PDR Calls for Water Management Cooperation
Vietnam Sanitation Marketing Project to Provide Lessons on Sustainability
New Decentralized Sanitation Methodology Catches Attention of Peru’s Finance Ministry
25,000 Rural Families in Peru Access Sustainable Water and Sanitation Services
Networking in Nicaragua to Strengthen the Water and Sanitation Sector
Bangladesh Municipalities Launch Water Utility Network
News Media Can Draw Global Awareness, Action for Water and Sanitation Challenges
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Improving Water Utility Services through Delegated Management

An Introduction of Self Supply: Putting the User First: Incremental improvements and private investment in rural water supply

VIDEO: Successful Water Reform in Senegal

VIDEO: Media spot to promote handwashing amongst mothers in Ghana | Children in Ghana
Media spot to promote handwashing in Uganda

East Asia and the Pacific

Urban Sanitation in Indonesia: Planning for Progress

VIDEO: Media spot to promote handwashing in Vietnam

Latin America and the Carribean

VIDEO: Media spot to promote handwashing in Colombia (1) | Colombia (2)

South Asia

Global Experiences on Expanding Services to the Urban Poor

Improving Water Supply and Sanitation Services for the Urban Poor in India

VIDEO: The Story of Younnis

VIDEO: The New Wave -- Scaling Up Sustainable Sanitation in Rural India

VIDEO: Towards Clean Cities: Addressing Sanitation in Urban India

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9th SuSanA Meeting
May 16-17 2009, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
World Water Week
Correction: August 16-22 2009, Stockholm, Sweden
WSP Council Meeting
June 8-10, 2009, Vienna, Austria
Singapore International Water Week
June 22-26, 2009, Singapore

For details on these and other upcoming events, please see our events calendar.

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Microfinance Increases Access, Efficiency of Water Services for 60,000 in Rural Kenya

Lessons on micro-finance options for financing small scale water projects are emerging from a pilot project that is now moving to large scale implementation across Kenya. The project leverages commercial co-finance from a local micro-finance bank, K-Rep, by providing an output based subsidy. Implementation of the pilot in five rural and peri-urban districts is demonstrating that micro-financing can increase access of poor people to, and the efficiency of water supply.

The initial phase aims to reach 15,000 households with direct and metered connections, and ultimately serve 60,000 people with clean water. Already, loan applications totaling US$700,000 are being processed, of which seven community projects are receiving disbursements and have started construction on water schemes. One project has received a subsidy of 40 percent of total investment cost from the Global Partnership on Output-based Aid (GPOBA) after satisfactory completion and verification of agreed outputs.

Another four projects are nearing completion. Recently, the European Union (EU) Water Facility approved an additional ?1.5 million for scaling up the project to 55 projects across Kenya over the next three years. The Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) is also financing the establishment of a Project Development Facility to assist communities developing high quality loan applications.  The facility will be managed by the Water Services Trust Fund. WSP is providing technical support in the overall design and implementation process of the projects.

Contact: Kameel Virjee at
African Water Utilities Develop Service Guidelines for Informal Settlements

In Kenya, the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) and Athi Water Services Board (AWSB) have jointly launched the Strategic Guidelines for Improving Water and Sanitation Services in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements.  The guidelines aim at ensuring that the asset holder and the water company support comprehensive efforts to achieve long-term impact and to use their resources efficiently.

They also provide a framework for the two institutions to increase coverage, affordability, and sustainable access to safe water services and basic sanitation facilities in informal settlements.

Roughly 60 percent of Nairobi’s residents live in informal settlements, where they lack affordable, reliable, and potable water and adequate sanitation facilities. Recently, NWSC established a dedicated department headed by a Senior Manager to address the needs of the informal settlements. The setting up of such dedicated units as an interface between water companies and the communities they serve within a utility is increasingly recognized as good practice. If a public or private water utility is to be efficient and effective in providing water to the urban poor, it must have a dedicated unit to address issues that often go unattended such as the revenue collection and project departments. In Zambia, the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company is strengthening a dedicated unit to focus on issues concerning extension of water supply to peri-urban areas. WSP supports utilities’ sharpened focus on serving poor people living in urban areas—particularly in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia.
Contact: Vivian Castro at

Relevance to Decision-Makers Key to Success of New Cost-Benefit Analysis of Sanitation Options

Results must be delivered in a variety of ways that make them relevant to decision makers in different sectors, according to participants of a regional stakeholder workshop in Phnom Penh last month on the Economics of Sanitation Initiative (ESI) Phase 2—the cost-benefit analysis study.

Presenting results in a sector-appropriate manner will increase the likelihood that they will have the intended effect on spending patterns of governments, donors, and households. WSP staff and consultants from six participating countries from the East Asia and the Pacific region were among those gathering in from 31 March to 2 April to share ideas on how best to present the cost-benefit results.

Data collection, including household surveys and focus group discussions in several field sites per country, as well as sanitation-related tourism and business surveys, is close to completion in three of the six participating countries.  Results from the Phase 2 study will be publicized towards the end of 2009. ESI Phase 1 focused on the economic impacts of poor sanitation, and found that poor sanitation and hygiene costs Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam in excess of US$9 billion per year, equal to two percent of GDP or US$22 per capita.

Contact: Almud Weitz, Guy Hutton at

News Media Calls Attention to Sanitation in Indonesia

To encourage increased news coverage and national attention to Indonesia’s sanitation challenges, WSP and Government partners launched a Media Writing Contest, awarding prizes based on theme selection, accuracy of data, comprehensiveness, writing techniques, and style.  The winners included Her World magazine's Key of Life, Singgalang newspaper's Poor Sanitation: Rp56 Trillion Losses per Year, and the Medical Tribune's A Portrait of Sanitation in Indonesia.

The contest began with a national seminar on sanitation on December 8, 2008, presenting the four participating organizations: WSP, the National Development Planning Agency, the Ministry of Health, and the Public Works Ministry as the lead agency of International Year of Sanitation activities in Indonesia. The seminar drew wide media attention, with over 100 newspapers and magazines running the story. Most headlines highlighted WSP figures from the Economics of Sanitation Initiative. A jury comprising the four organizations plus the Dr. Soetomo Press Institute selected the winning articles out of more than fifty entries submitted in April.  The Minister of Public Works is scheduled to present the prize to the winners in Jakarta.

Contact: Yosa Yuliarsa at

Prime Minister of Lao PDR Calls for Water Management Cooperation

Lao PDR Prime Minister H.E. Bouasone Boupphavanh called for sustainable use of the Mekong River Basin and urged cooperation on trans-boundary water management in his address to commemorate World Water Day 2009. The prime minister said this year's theme—Shared Waters - Shared Opportunities—is very important to the riparian countries in the Mekong River Basin, which is one of the largest international river basins and home to a treasured ecological diversity. "We must all use the Mekong River in a sustainable manner and cooperate in response to the possible impacts of its development," he added.

To continue with the event's objective to raise awareness on Trans-boundary Water Management in Lao, WSP presented "Working Across Institutional Boundaries for Better Water Management—Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment" in a seminar, and took part in an exhibition on April 1-5, featuring information, education, and communications materials in a joint booth with the World Bank. The commemoration also included the River Watch Campaign, a children’s drawing competition, and a mini-marathon.

Contact: Viengsamay Vongkhamsao at

Vietnam Sanitation Marketing Project to Provide Lessons on Sustainability

WSP and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Partnership (RWSSP) of Vietnam last month convened stakeholders to further develop the objectives and design of a new study of a sanitation marketing project in two rural areas in Vietnam.  The case study of Thanh Hoa and Quang Nam will capture lessons learned during, and since the 2003-2006 project on the scaling up, replicability, and sustainability in providing sanitation products and services, particularly from the local private sector market.  The project was implemented with technical assistance from International Development Enterprises (IDE).

“This project is looked to repeatedly in the water and sanitation sector as an example of best practice when it comes to sanitation marketing,” said Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist at WSP Eddy Perez.  “The evidence from this study will allow sector professionals to learn from what worked, what didn’t, and why.”

The consultation was attended by some 30 participants from various government and non government organizations and bilateral and multilateral agencies.  A second stakeholder review meeting is planned for July/August 2009 once preliminary findings are available.

Contact: Jacqueline Devine at:

New Decentralized Sanitation Methodology Catches Attention of Peru’s Finance Ministry

Four regional governments in Peru have for the first time developed sanitation action plans that estimate and allocate necessary human and financial resources for the delivery of integrated sanitation services in rural and urban areas.

 The participatory nature of the methodology helped identify the varying objectives and needs of sanitation at local government levels and take into account users' and providers' voice. One of the most important highlights was the inclusion in the plans of the financial component, reflecting what the region can reach within the allocated budget. Based on this experience, the Ministry of Economy and Finance is interested in applying the methodology in other regions and even in other sectors.

In order to contribute to the national decentralization process, WSP provided technical assistance to targeted regional governments in designing and implementing an innovative methodology for elaborating these plans based on a comprehensive and integral concept of sanitation, addressing sewage water, solid waste management, and urban drainage.

Contact:  Iris Marmanillo at

25,000 Rural Families in Peru Access Sustainable Water and Sanitation Services

Two successful rural water supply and sanitation projects, Sanbasur and Propilas implemented in the Peruvian Highlands, are coming to a close after a decade of implementation. Both projects had significant impacts on the Peruvian rural population:

•       25,000 rural families obtained access to sustainable water and sanitation services

•       30 local governments developed “technical support offices” for rural communities

•       Primary and kindergarten schools included topics such as saving water, health, hygiene, and protection of the environment in the school learning plan

•       Regional governments were trained in planning sustainable investments.

Propilas established a pilot school in water and sanitation to train professionals, social promoters, and technicians in service implementation and delivery to remote rural communities as well as to rural district capitals with populations of fewer than 2,000 inhabitants. In 2008, 430 technicians and professionals were accredited, accessing better and more job oportunities. 

Sanbasur centered its strategy on reinforcing regional government in its leading function for planning, consensus building, elaborating norms, financial management, and supervision of basic rural sanitation projects. WSP participated in both projects by providing key technical assistance, capacity building, and documenting lessons learned in order to achieve a more efficient and sustainable rural water and sanitation supply.

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Contact: Oscar Castillo at

Networking in Nicaragua to Strengthen the Water and Sanitation Sector

The Nicaraguan water and sanitation network, RASNIC, was relaunched last month with thematic task forces to address sanitation, urban water supply and sanitation, and knowledge management.  The reinvigorated effort aims to promote effective dialogue and consultation, share innovative approaches to facilitate legal and institutional sector modernization, and foment low cost pro-poor technologies and sanitation solutions in one of the poorest Latin American countries.

Contact: Francisco Carranza at

Bangladesh Municipalities Launch Water Utility Network

The improvement of service delivery in urban Bangladesh received a boost when the eight current members of the Urban Water Utilities adopted a draft framework for establishing a network among them.  This framework was based on previous work on Benchmarking and a Performance Improvement Program. Agreed with key government and non government organizations in early April 2009, all eight utilities and another two urban water utilities will rotate coordination of the network every six months as the network moves towards a formal structure in future and expands to include more water utilities.

The mission of the urban water utility network is to facilitate performance improvement of the utilities and ensure improved service delivery to all citizens including urban poor people through the sharing of experiences.  The key tasks of the network would be to share good practices, learning, information, performance standards, etc. among the utilities and help one another to improve service delivery by utilizing their own resources.

The total population of the networking towns is over 1 million, about 40 percent of which receive piped water supply for less than eight hours a day. The network will focus on coverage, supply hours, and connection to the poor communities (around half the population) and promises to benefit them as the utilities become able to plan more accurately on the basis of improved data and also develop a sense of competition as the levels of service deficiencies and improvements become known to more people.  
Contact: Md. Akhtaruzzaman at

News Media Can Draw Global Awareness, Action for Water and Sanitation Challenges

Working with the global news media to develop a solid sector knowledge base will help increase awareness and action for water and sanitation challenges, according to participants at a roundtable discussion hosted by PATH, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and Water Advocates.  The discussion was a follow-up to a media workshop at the Istanbul World Water Forum that exposed journalists to the water and sanitation sector, built capacity for improved news coverage of the issues for their media outlets, expanded coverage of the issues and of the Water Forum, and created a network of sector journalists.  The Istanbul workshop was organized with Media 21 and sponsored by PATH, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the UN Water Decade, Water Advocates, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, the World Water Council, and WSP.

Participants said much more needs to be done, citing Newsweek as a case in point.  “Newsweek has had 18 cover stories on HIV/AIDS since 1982 and none on water and sanitation related diseases,” said John Sauer of Water Advocates.

Contact: Christopher Walsh at
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Planning Tools

WaterAid has produced a low cost toilet technology flipbook that lets you find out about the advantages and disadvantages of a range of latrine technologies. The flipbook allows you to mix and match the three toilet components: superstructure, slab and pit, or vault. For each correct combination total costs are calculated.

Water Business Planning is a website that displays tools developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources in Ethiopia.  Although the work was initially completed for Ethopia, the tools are relevant to other countries and would be of particular interest to water utilities managers. 

Pumpaid has developed a website that calculates how much money you would lose each year if you didn't have access to water and sanitation.

The World Bank Institute has developed a project focusing on improving governance in the water sector through transparency, social accountability, and communication approaches, and by engaging communities in the Town Council to work in partnership with service providers to improve the quality of water service delivery. A hybrid methodology known as the Citizen's Report Card (CRC)/Community Score Card (CSC) and various communication tools and mechanisms are being used to promote social accountability.  To read more on this project, please click here.


The Water Channel is an online repository for water videos. It is an initiative of MetaMeta Communications and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.

Working in poor urban areas, WSUP is an innovative organization that brings together local and global expertise to provide sustainable water and sanitation solutions for poor communities. They have released a new video on water and sanitation for the urban poor.

The International Committee of the Red Cross released a video about how emergency response groups are getting into long term water and sanitation programs.

The Good: Drinking Water Video is a catchy educational video about the global water and sanitation crisis.

The World Bank Institute have developed two films; one Tackling Corruption in the Water and Sanitation sector in Africa and the other on Consumer Feedback Partnership Pilot in Kenya in the Water and Sanitation Sector.


The World Bank has produced a sourcebook, Deterring Corruption and Improving Governance in the Urban Water and Sanitation Sector.  The sourcebook is a resource for practitioners to assess the extent and risks of corruption in the sector and to improve governance.

The World Bank also released its quarterly newsletter on water issues, NewsSplash.

All presentations from World Bank Water Week are now available online.

The 3rd United Nations World Water Development Report: Water in a Changing World was just released in March at the World Water Forum in Istanbul.

The United Nations Development Program recently released the Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment.  It addresses the different sanitation and hygiene needs of women and men. It gives communities information about how sanitation improvements can be made by better use of indigenous skills.

A recent United States Agency for International Development study in Nepal has demonstrated a significant reduction in neonatal mortality due to maternal and birth attendant hand washing.

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University recently released Water: The New Reality, a collection of papers on subjects ranging from rural water pricing to piracy.


The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting supported Seattle-based multimedia journalists Sarah Stuteville, Jessica Partnow and Alex Stonehill from The Common Language Project, Kenyan journalist Ernest Waititu of and project intern and videographer Julia Marino of Ohio University as they took an in-depth look at East Africans' struggles for water and how the actions of Americans are both alleviating and intensifying the problem.  To view their multimedia reporting please click here.

UNICEF recently produced a photo essay, entitled Handwashing With Soap Saves Lives.

Water Advocates wrote a blog entry on the Huffington Post about the overlooked burden that lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation places on women.

Rose George also wrote an op-ed that was published by the Washington Post’s Post Global. It focuses on how damaging the lack of sanitation is to humans and the environment. She calls diarrhea “the world's most effective weapon of mass destruction.”

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WSP Africa
World Bank
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P.O. Box 30577-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Phone (254-20)322 6334
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WSP East Asia and the Pacific
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Fax (62-21) 5299 3004

WSP Latin America and the Caribbean
Water and Sanitation Program
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Mision Residente del Perú
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Phone (51-1) 615-0685
Fax (51-1) 615-0689

WSP South Asia
World Bank

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New Delhi 110003, India
Phone (91-11) 2469 0488/ 2469 0489
Fax (91-11) 2462 8250

WSP Washington DC
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433 USA


The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) is a multi-donor partnership program administered by the World Bank. Our goal is to reduce poverty in developing countries by helping the poor gain sustained access to improved water supply and sanitation services (WSS).
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