Impact partner profile

Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor

WSUP helps transform cities to benefit the millions who lack access to water and sanitation

Est. since


Location of HQ

7th Floor, Fleet House, 8-12 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6AL, United Kingdom

Partnership date with Thankyou

September 2020

Area of focus

Clean Water and Sanitation, Sustainable Communities and Cities, and Climate Action


Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia


Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) is a non-for-profit company that helps to transform cities for millions who lack access to water and sanitation.

WSUP began in 2005 as a response to the urban explosion that left many cities unable to provide basic services to low income communities, such as access to toilets or drinking water. Their team works alongside local providers, enabling them to develop services, build infrastructure, and attract funding so that they can reach these communities.

To ensure that their services will exist long-term and reach as many people as possible, WSUP has a strong focus on financial viability. This means working with utilities and businesses to help build services that will generate revenue. During this process WSUP aim to reach the most vulnerable urban residents and advise regulators and governments on how to create an environment that enables businesses to succeed.

WSUP operates in seven countries within sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and is supported by an office in the UK. As the urban specialist in water and sanitation, they are committed to sharing evidence and learnings from their approach to ensure their innovations enable change around the world.

Since their inception in 2005, WSUP have helped over 20 million people with improved access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services.

Core impact goals

Increased integration

WSUP aim to integrate water, sanitation and hygiene services within wider urban development to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Strengthen and expand

A core goal for WSUP is to strengthen and expand their technical and business support to utilities, municipalities and water and sanitation enterprises.

Seek out and build partnerships

WSUP will seek out and build partnerships to accelerate urban water, sanitation and hygiene provision at scale.

Drive transformation

WSUP aim to drive transformation within the urban water, sanitation and hygiene sector through rigorous research, data-driven learning, dissemination and influencing.

Increase scale and impact

WSUP plan to implement a considered strategy of geographical expansion, to increase their scale and impact.

Type of grant funding given

$400,000 *AUD

*12 month unrestricted funded grant (October 2020–September 2021)

FY2021 impact milestones

WSUP aims to reach the following impact milestones over the course of Thankyou’s grant period (12 months). Here’s how they went:

Reach 2 million low-income and under-served urban dwellers who lack access to safe, affordable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
WSUP reached 6.8 million low-income and under-served urban dwellers who lack access to safe, affordable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
Build the technical, business, and operational capacity and capabilities of urban WASH service providers in targeted cities across WSUP country programs.
WSUP implemented multiple projects across its six core countries; one example is the work undertaken with Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) in Maputo to support the goal of reducing non-revenue water (NRW)* in the city. In Maputo, WSUP has engaged 9 CBOs working across 13 bairros (the low-income customer area) to decentralise the NRW management by being the local ‘face’ of the Water Utility in a delegated model. Adapting the customer interface to be appropriate for these low-income customers and their preferred payment structuring empowers the customer and is highly effective for the utility. *Non-revenue water has been treated and pumped into the network, but its value is lost due to physical leakage or poor financial processes, perhaps through inaccurate billing systems or meter readings.
Strengthen the enabling environment for urban WASH across WSUP country programs.
WSUP implemented multiple projects across its six core countries; one example is supporting five Communes in Antananarivo through a process of self-assessment based on the Sector Functionality Framework, a tool for assessing the functionality of the national-level urban WASH sector. The Communes used the results of these assessments to develop short-term action plans to address priority areas of weakness identified by the self-assessment. All Communes have now reached the end of the short-term plans.
Mobilise $25 million to influence and improve the targeting and effectiveness of major investment to serve significantly more of the urban poor.
The total finance mobilised across the period was US $5,472,717. This was due to major investments that WSUP is supporting on being completed in the time period. However it’s worth noting that there are several significant IFI investments claimed during the previous year (totalling $186m) for which disbursement is ongoing.
Build the evidence base available to in-country actors, including national and city governments; to major international donors and financing institutions; and to WSUP programs.
WSUP released new evidence on topics such as citywide inclusive sanitation, integrated slum upgrading and improving quality of sanitation in low-income urban settings. This final output included an evaluation of Clean Team, a container-based sanitation business owned by WSUP. The research project is the first to systematically assess customer satisfaction with container-based sanitation — an innovative solution for low-income urban communities. The evaluation highlights positive findings across all measures, including gender equity, with women expressing very high satisfaction levels with the service.
Develop the skills needed to deliver the substantial growth envisioned in the 2020-2025 Business Plan.
WSUP delivered a weekly internal learning program which was split across four tracks: (i) utility strengthening, (ii) citywide inclusive sanitation, (iii) shared learning and (iv) programme strategy, tools, and approaches). These sessions have provided a collaborative forum for sharing learning and advancing knowledge within WSUP. Key topics addressed include innovation, utility governance and mandates, public private partnerships in sanitation, climate-resilient urban WASH, Business Plan update, gender, and reflective sessions for feedback. WSUP began the Country Series in August, which took a deep dive into WSUP’s country programmes, giving the whole organisation insight into the culture, current project and programmes and key priorities moving forward.
Milestone complete.
On track
Milestone on-track for completion within specified timeframe, outside of Thankyou’s grant period.
Partially achieved
Milestone <90% completed within grant period.
Mostly achieved
>90%+ milestone completion.
Milestone delayed, not completed within grant period.

FY2021 impact report