Water and Sanitation

Providing water and sanitation for all in an equitable and sustainable way is central to achieving global justice for poor women and men. Despite successive global declarations and efforts, the situation remains appalling with millions suffering from lack of access.

Simplistic portrayals of water and sanitation 'crises' have often led to misunderstandings on the nature of the problem and how to address it. The result has been a failure to centralise the needs and interests of the poor and marginalised within different solutions.

Water Justice

Principally conducted by researchers at IDS and within the STEPS Centre, our work on water justice critically examines the politics and pathways of water and sanitation policy and practice through interdisciplinary research on access, rights and control over these key resources. Through this research we ask how future global action on water and sanitation and water resources management can centralise the needs of the poor and most marginalised.

Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS)

IDS has been working on the research, learning and networking aspects of CLTS for close to a decade. During this time, CLTS has become an international movement. The IDS programme on Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) works around the world to ensure that CLTS goes to scale with quality and in a sustainable and inclusive manner. The aim is to contribute to the dignity, health and wellbeing of children, women and men in the developing world who currently suffer the consequences of inadequate or no sanitation and poor hygiene.

Photo of Gordon McGranahan, Cities research fellow More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Jamie Myers, IDS Research Officer More details

Photo of Jeremy Allouche, IDS research fellow More details

Photo of John Thompson, a Research Fellow in the IDS Rural Futures research cluster More details

Kamal Kar photo More details

Photo of Naomi Vernon More details

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Photo of Robert Chambers More details

Roz Price photo More details

photo of Shilpi Srivastava More details

Photo of Tamahi Kato More details

Photo of Tessa Lewin More details

DFID Innovation Prizes for Environment and Development

Running innovation prizes that will improve poor people's resilience to climate change. More details

Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures)

GroFutures is a 4-year interdisciplinary research project aiming to develop the scientific basis and participatory management processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa. More details

HEART (Health and Education Advice and Resource Team)

HEART is a consortium of leading organisations in international development, health, nutrition, education, social protection and WASH. More details

Human Development Innovation Fund

The Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) identifies and supports innovations that have the potential to create social impact in education, health and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) across Tanzania. More details

Improving access to livelihoods, jobs and basic services in violent contexts

Expanding access to work and services, such as public utilities and safe and reliable transportation, are important elements of any approach to strengthen security in poor urban neighbourhoods. More details

Roads for Water

Water is an invisible passenger travelling on and under roads. Roads also act as dikes altering run-off patterns and sometimes even re-arranging watersheds. Road programs and projects directly deal with existing land and water property and user rights: farmers gaining or losing water resources. More details

Sharing Lessons, Improving Practice: Maximising the Potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation

CLTS is an innovative methodology for mobilising communities to completely eliminate open defecation (OD). More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

Sustainable Services at Scale (Triple-S) Initiative

The Triple-S Initiative aims to catalyse systemic change in rural water policies and practices, to move from an infrastructure-based approach towards service delivery approaches. IDS is providing ongoing external learning and methodology support to the initiative. More details

Universalising Water and Sanitation Coverage in Urban Areas: From Global Targets To Local Realities in Dar Es Salaam

The Sustainable Development Goals have targeted universal access to water and sanitation, and associated monitoring is intended to help achieve this target. Reflecting on Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this consultancy explores how global monitoring could better support local efforts to improve water and sanitation in low-income urban settlements. More details

Water Justice Programme

The Water Justice Programme critically examines the politics and pathways of water and sanitation policy and practice through interdisciplinary research on access, rights and control over these key resources More details

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Engaging Men and Boys in Sanitation and Hygiene Programmes

Frontiers of CLTS 11 (2018)

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS shares and builds on the learning from a desk study that explores examples of men’s and boys’ behaviours and gender roles in sanitation and hygiene (S&H). More details

Environmental Impact Assessments in refugee crises

The review highlights a selection of publically accessible examples of the where EIAs (or other environmental assessments) have been carried out in refugee situations. More details

Supporting the Poorest and Most Vulnerable in CLTS Programmes

Supporting the Poorest and Most Vulnerable in CLTS Programmes

CLTS Knowledge Hub Learning Paper (2017)

This Learning Paper discusses ways the poorest and most vulnerable can be supported both through strengthening the CLTS process and the introduction of support mechanisms. It focuses on strengthening the CLTS process, identifying and targeting people for support, the sequencing of support mechanisms, roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and the different support mechanisms and the associated risks. More details

This is the Front Cover of Frontiers 10 Equality and Non-discrimination (EQND) in sanitation programmes at scale (part 1 of 2)

Equality and Non-Discrimination (EQND) in Sanitation Programmes at Scale (Part 1 of 2)

Frontiers of CLTS 10 (2017)

A well-facilitated Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme that pro-actively considers and involves people who might be disadvantaged has been shown to have many benefits. This issue of Frontiers of CLTS looks at who should be considered potentially disadvantaged, how they can effectively participate and what may be needed to address diverse needs in order to make processes and outcomes sustainable and inclusive. More details

This is the front cover to the book, 'Flows and Practices: The Politics of Integrated Water Resources Management in Eastern and Southern Africa'.

Flows and Practices: The Politics of Integrated Water Resources Management in Eastern and Southern Africa

Book (2017)

For the past two decades, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been the dominant paradigm in water resources. This book explores how ideas of IWRM are being translated and adapted in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Policy Briefing 142, 'Improving Livelihoods Through
Better Road and Water Integration and Planning'.

Improving Livelihoods Through Better Road and Water Integration and Planning

IDS Policy Briefing 142 (2017)

Poorly planned roads can negatively affect rural dwellers by damaging land-based assets, through water logging and erosion. However, by modifying the flows of water and the quantity of surface and groundwater available, roads can also have positive impacts on the lives and livelihoods of affected populations. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Learning About ‘Engaged Excellence’ Across A Transformative Knowledge Network

IDS Bulletin 47.6 (2016)

The ‘Pathways’ transformative knowledge network is an international group of research organisations, collaborating to explore processes of social transformation and to share insights across disciplines, cultures and contexts. More details

The Community Incentive Model: Towards an Open Defecation Free Chhattisgarh

This Learning Paper documents the Community Incentive Method. It focuses on how and why it evolved, how it works, the challenges of using a similar approach and recommendations. More details

Non-IDS publication

Adapting To Risk And Perpetuating Poverty: Household’s Strategies For Managing Flood Risk And Water Scarcity In Mexico City

Adaptation is typically conceived uniquely in positive terms, however for some populations, investments in risk management can entail significant tradeoffs. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Universalising Water and Sanitation Coverage in Urban Areas: From Global Targets to Local Realities in Dar es Salaam, and Back

Reflecting on Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this paper demonstrates how global monitoring often fails to reflect and support local efforts to improve water and sanitation in low-income settlements. More details

Non-IDS publication

Why Invisible Power and Structural Violence Persist in the Water Domain

IDS Bulletin 47.5 (2016)

This article argues that inequality in access to water and sanitation is largely caused and legitimised by different forms of invisible power that prevent universal access. More details

Waterlines Journal coverpage

Urban Community-Led Total Sanitation: A Potential Way Forward for Co-Producing Sanitation Services

Waterlines 35.4 (2016)

This article explores whether Community-led total sanitation (CLTS) can be used in peri-urban and urban areas to help co-produce sanitation facilities More details

Front cover for 'Ten Frontier Technologies for International Development'

Ten Frontier Technologies for International Development

As new technologies and digital business models reshape economies and disrupt incumbencies, interest has surged in the potential of novel frontier technologies to also contribute to positive changes in international development and humanitarian contexts. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Whose Waters? Large-Scale Agricultural Development and Water Grabbing in the Wami-Ruvu River Basin, Tanzania

Water Alternatives 9.3 (2016)

This article asks how IWRM manages the competing interests as well as the diverse priorities of both large and small water users in the midst of foreign direct investment. The article asks whether institutional and capacity weaknesses around IWRM implementation can be exploited by powerful actors that seek to meet their own interests, thus allowing water grabbing to take place. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Birth and Spread of IWRM – A Case Study of Global Policy Diffusion and Translation

Water Alternatives 9.3 (2016)

The principal goal of this article is to identify a set of concepts and mechanisms to study the global diffusion and translation of IWRM through coercion, cooperation, or learning from the ground. The article will also highlight the extent to which this global diffusion was contested and translated into different meanings in terms of policy orientation. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Emergence, Interpretations and Translations of IWRM in South Africa

Water Alternatives 9.3 (2016)

This paper explores how the idea of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) emerged in South Africa, its key debates and interpretations and how it has been translated. It maps out the history, main events, key people, and implementation efforts through a combination of reviews of available documents and in-depth semi-structured interviews with key actors. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Special Issue: Flows and Practices: The Politics of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Southern Africa

Water Alternatives 9.3 (2016)

The 14 original articles in this collection explore the on-the-ground complexities of IWRM implementation, interpretations and adaptations. Grounded in social science theory and research, this special issue demonstrates the importance of politics, political economy, history and culture in shaping water management practices and reform. It demonstrates how Africa has clearly been a laboratory for IWRM in the past two decades. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Introduction to the Special Issue – Flows and Practices: The Politics of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Southern Africa

Water Alternatives 9.3 (2016)

This article provides a conceptual framework to study: the flow of IWRM as an idea; its translation and articulation into new policies, institutions and allocation mechanisms, and the resulting practices and effects across multiple scales – global, regional, national and local. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The 'Trickle Down' of IWRM: A Case Study of Local-Level Realities in the Inkomati Water Management Area, South Africa

Water Alternatives 9.3 (2016)

The translation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) into the South African context and, in particular, the integration of institutions related to land and water have faced many challenges due to the political nature of water and land reforms, and the tendency of governmental departments to work in silos. The paper explores the dynamics surrounding the implementation of IWRM in the Inkomati Water Management Area, and the degree of integration between the parallel land and water reform processes. More details

Non-IDS publication

Advancing Metrics: Models For Understanding Adaptive Capacity And Water Security

We explore the relationship between water security (WS) and adaptive capacity (AC); the two concepts are connected because achieving the first may be dependent on building the second. More details

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