Sanitation partnerships

Thinking about rental accommodation

Many advocate a demand-responsive approach to improving local sanitation – strengthening the desire of householders to invest in sanitation facilities.  This desire is clearly very dependent upon the context the householder is faced with, the means at their disposal and the importance they attach to convenience, privacy, dignity and health.  In poor urban communities many people also rent, and land tenure is often lacking.  The incentives for either tenants, or owners without land tenure, to invest time and money in fixed infrastructure is generally weak.  This poses a direct challenge to demand responsive approaches, which often skirt the problem by dealing with only a small percentage of households in any given community ('early adopters').  Yet for health gains to be made and for impact at scale, the majority within a given neighbourhood must ‘adopt’ improved sanitation.  Sanitation promoters may therefore have to consider blending their approaches to include the lower rungs on the 'sanitation ladder' (e.g. shared and public toilets), or find innovative ways to engage these 'difficult groups'.




Sanitation partnerships: landlord or tenant? The importance of rental relationships to poor community sanitation in 3 African countries 

To let or toilet? Is that the question? The hidden challenges of selling sanitation - this paper focuses on responsibility for provision and how to bring about reform 

Dealing with land tenure and tenancy challenges in water and sanitation services delivery - the 1st of 4 learning documents by BPD on WSUP's African Cities for the Future programme. How can tenancy challenges be overcome? This paper presents an overview, possible solutions and recommendations.

Sanitation partnerships: a roundtable - the relevance of tenancy to sanitation in poor communities - the findings from this BPD roundtable explore this issue further and debate what it meant for those interested in sanitation partnerships. This discussion built on a cursory review of the tenancy situation in Maputo, Maseru and Nairobi.  


Case study - Maseru, Lesotho


Maseru in Lesotho was known for the success of the Urban Sanitation Improvement Team (USIT) programme dating back to the 1980s, which rested on a strong partnership across government, donor agencies, service providers and others.  USIT worked with local builders to develop standard Ventilation Improved Pit Latrine (VIP) designs and construction norms, and conducted highly successful sanitation promotion campaigns to build demand, supported by a loan scheme to assist households to fund their own latrines.  By 1995, over 12,000 households in Maseru had installed VIP toilets with USIT support.  A formal programme linked the different parties together and governed how public finances were spent and results assessed.


However, at the time of this study, the population of Maseru had virtually doubled to over 300 000 since the mid-1980s.  Growth continued at about 7% a year with the majority of new residents comprising poor people fleeing drought in rural areas, and migrant mine workers no longer able to find work in South Africa.  The biggest sanitation gap was no longer among owner-occupiers, but tenants living in ‘line houses’, or malaene – rows of rented one-roomed dwellings where it is common for five or more families to share a single pit toilet.  As transient tenants, these households had little incentive to invest in improvements and major maintenance themselves.  New approaches were needed if this new gap was to be tackled effectively.


More on the Maseru case study