Sanitation partnerships - Maseru

Case study - Maseru, Lesotho

Maseru in Lesotho is 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 VIP latrine 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.


At the time of this case study, USIT survived in highly attenuated form; the programme resided exclusively in government, yet responsibility for sanitation improvement was highly fragmented and resources were limited. Demographic shifts in Lesotho had seen a surge in demand for rental accommodation in Maseru, with malaene (line houses) mushrooming in poorer suburbs. If these had facilities, they were typically a shared latrine in poor condition.  Tenants were therefore much less catered for than the owner-occupiers that the USIT programme targeted.


When the study took place, emptying was offered by the urban Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA). Tankers mostly emptied conservancy tanks. Some appropriate technology had previously been trialled for emptying toilets, but efforts seemed to have largely collapsed, partly due to fragmented oversight within government. In 1999, an attempt was made to outsource emptying of both toilet pits and conservancy tanks. The Privatisation Unit within the Ministry of Finance put out a tender, but failed to find a service provider willing to operate at a rate that was affordable to Maseru's residents without subsidies. It was also hampered by a lack of reliable data on costs and the market.


Related publications

Full Maseru case study - analyses the policy context, service delivery arrangements and prospects for partnership in Maseru.

BPD report on the Maseru case study

WSPP review of the USIT programme in Lesotho - highlights the initial successes of the programme.