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

More details

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

View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


IDS publications on international development research

Learning from Sustained Success: How Community-Driven Initiatives to Improve Urban Sanitation Can Meet the Challenges

World Development (2016)

Past research has identified four key institutional challenges that community-driven initiatives to improve sanitation in deprived urban settlements face. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Using a CLTS Approach in Peri-Urban and Urban Environments: Potential at Scale

This note summarises the potentials and limitations of using a CLTS approach in peri-urban and urban environments More details

This is the cover to the book, 'Sustainable Sanitation for All'.

Sustainable Sanitation for All

Describing the landscape of sustainability of CLTS and sanitation with reference to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and through examples from Africa and Asia, the book captures a range of experiences and innovations from a broad range of institutions and actors within the WASH sector, and attempts to make recommendations and practical suggestions for policy and practice for practitioners, funders, policymakers and governments. More details

Frontiers of CLTS - Issue 9

CLTS in Post-Emergency and Fragile States Settings

Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights 9 (2016)

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS explores the potential, and some of the recorded learning, on how CLTS, as a community-based, collaborative approach to sanitation behavioural change, can be applied successfully in contexts of fragility and displacement, leading to communities more convinced and prepared to maintain and develop safe sanitation practices. More details

ER194_FrontCover

Impact of Community-led Total Sanitation on Women’s Health in Urban Slums: A Case Study from Kalyani Municipality

IDS Evidence Report 194 (2016)

This Evidence Report seeks to understand the health and other impacts of slum women’s access to sanitation through the Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach. More details

IDS publications on international development research

In the Pipeline: From Clientelism to Customer Service, the Governance of Urban Water Supply in Informal Settlements

International Development Planning Review 38.3 (2016)

This paper explores the politics and governance issues underpinning small-scale informal service providers, to extract insights into how water provisioning for the poor works in the periphery of large cities. More details

The image is a photo of the front cover of Frontiers Seven

Norms, Knowledge and Usage

Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights 7 (2016)

The partial or total non-use of toilets, with some or all in a household defecating in the open, is a growing concern. Although all households may have a toilet, communities cannot remain open defecation free unless they are always used by everyone. This is not just an issue of maintenance and accessibility but also of social norms, mind-sets, and cultural preferences. The problem is widespread but most evident in India. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Water resources and climate change

The state of water resources is one of constant change. Rising temperatures are reducing the reliability and quality of water supplies. More details

Strengthening_Evidence_Based_Policy_2015

Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs April 2014 – March 2015

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2015)

In much writing about development, policy and practice are portrayed as if they are joined at the hip. Policy shapes practice, while learning from practice informs policy processes. In this portrayal, practice is usually understood to refer to development practice, or how development programmes and projects are implemented. More details

Front Cover Frontiers MHM. Photograph on front is: A School in Tororo District, Uganda. Credit: Plan Internation

Breaking the Next Taboo: Menstrual Hygiene within CLTS

Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights 6 (2015)

Menstruation is a natural and healthy part of the life of women and girls, but is often a taboo subject, not easily talked about, which can lead to feelings of embarrassment and shame. It can also lead to girls losing attention at school or missing days from school. More details

Front cover of Frontiers of CLTS number 5 by Sarah House and Sue Cavill

Making Sanitation and Hygiene Safer: Reducing Vulnerabilities to Violence

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS focuses on the issue of safety and vulnerabilities to violence that women, girls and sometimes boys and men can face which are related to sanitation and hygiene. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Realizing the Right to Sanitation in Deprived Urban Communities: Meeting the Challenges of Collective Action, Coproduction, Affordability, and Housing Tenure

World Development 68 (2015)

There are serious institutional challenges associated with low-cost sanitation in deprived urban communities. These include a collective action challenge, a coproduction challenge, a challenge of affordability versus acceptability, and a challenge related to housing tenure. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Sharing Reflections on Inclusive Sanitation

Environment and Urbanization 27.1 (2015)

The paper discusses low-income households’ choices in situations where households can only afford US$ 3–4 per month for sanitation (for instance between communal, shared and household provision). More details

Sustainability and CLTS: Taking Stock Front Cover by Sue Cavill, Robert Chambers and Naomi Vernon

Sustainability and CLTS: taking stock

Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights 4 (2015)

Sustainability is without doubt one of the most burning subject matters that subsumes many of the issues seen in Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and wider Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practice. This issue of CLTS Frontiers series identifes priority areas for learning More details

This is the cover to IDS Working Paper 450, 'Reframing Undernutrition: Faecally-Transmitted Infections and the 5 As'.

Reframing Undernutrition: Faecally-Transmitted Infections and the 5 As

IDS Working Paper 450 (2014)

The dominant nutrition discourse concerns access to adequate food and its quality. It now includes food security, food rights and justice, governance and agriculture. More details

PB76 Front Cover

Ensuring Integrated Water Resource Management in Tanzania Benefits All

IDS Policy Briefing 76 (2014)

The introduction of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the early 1990s by international donors has led to some important new knowledge about availability and uses of water resources in Tanzania. More details

This is the cover for IDS Policy Briefing 80, 'Achieving a More Egalitarian Water Allocation System in Zimbabwe'.

Achieving a More Egalitarian Water Allocation System in Zimbabwe

IDS Policy Briefing (2014)

A number of major changes have affected water use in Zimbabwe. These include an increased urban population putting heavy pressure on the inadequate and poorly maintained water infrastructure resulting in serious environmental concerns. More details

This is the cover to IDS Policy Briefing 77, 'Learning from Southern Africa on Fair and Effective Integrated Water Resources Management'.

Learning from Southern Africa on Fair and Effective Integrated Water Resources Management

IDS Policy Briefing 77 (2014)

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been promoted by international donors, global water organisations and financers as the answer to the water crisis in the Global South. More details

This is the cover for IDS Policy Briefing 80, 'Achieving a More Egalitarian Water Allocation System in Zimbabwe'.

Achieving a More Egalitarian Water Allocation System in Zimbabwe

IDS Policy Briefing (2014)

A number of major changes have affected water use in Zimbabwe. These include an increased urban population putting heavy pressure on the inadequate and poorly maintained water infrastructure resulting in serious environmental concerns. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Water and Human Development

World Development 59 (2014)

The article argues for a human development approach to the water “crisis.” It explores the application of the entitlements approach (EA) and capabilities approach (CA) to water. EA goes beyond volumetric or per capita measurements of water scarcity and directs attention to the structural and institutional issues concerning water inequalities. More details