September 2023

Effective Enabling Environments for Inclusive Urban Water and Sanitation

Achieving and sustaining equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation services remain key challenges in many urban areas of low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO)/United Nations Children’s Fund’s Joint Monitoring Programme estimated that less than 58 percent of urban residents in low-income countries had access to safely managed drinking water services in 2020, while only 21 percent had access to safely managed sanitation (WHO/UNICEF 2022). Inclusive water and sanitation service delivery depends on the interplay among various public and private actors operating across different scales, geographic areas, and stages of the service chain.

As a result, recent initiatives such as citywide inclusive sanitation have explicitly recognized that comprehensive urban service provision in low-income countries often requires a diversity of strategies to meet the needs of different segments of the population. This study sought to understand the policies, regulations, institutional arrangements, and contextual factors that supported progress toward universal and inclusive urban water and sanitation service delivery. This product was developed by USAID’s Urban Resilience by Building Partnerships and Applying New Evidence in WASH (URBAN WASH) Activity.

What constitutes an effective enabling environment for improving urban water and sanitation services?

The team identified numerous factors that contribute to the enabling environment, either generally or within certain types of contexts. The section discusses these factors in detail, categorized according to the adapted version of the Sanitation Social-Ecological System (S-SES) framework. Within each category, the text highlights

(i) widely accepted components and

(ii) unresolved debates.

Where possible, the team included examples from various countries to highlight these factors in practice. This section concludes by focusing on remaining knowledge gaps on effective enabling environments for water and sanitation, which the comparative case study analyses help to address.

post end icon

Join our newsletter

Quality insights, straight to your inbox.