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 Lyla Mehta More details

Photo of Naomi Vernon More details

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Roz Price photo More details

photo of Shilpi Srivastava More details

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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

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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IDS publications on international development research

Roads for Water: The Unused Potential

Waterlines 33.2 (2014)

At present, water-related damage constitutes a major cost factor in road maintenance. Using ongoing research from Ethiopia, this article argues to reverse this and turn water from a foe into a friend and integrate water harvesting with road development. More details

This is the cover image for IDS Working Paper 438, 'Flows and Practices: Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in African Contexts'.

Flows and Practices: Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in African Contexts

IDS Working Paper 438 (2014)

For the past two decades, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been considered the dominant paradigm in water resources. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Cost of a Knowledge Silo: A Systematic Re-review of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Interventions

Divisions between communities, disciplinary and practice, impede understanding of how complex interventions in health and other sectors actually work and slow the development and spread of more effective ones. More details

cover page of CLTS publication 'Triggering for Handwashing'

How to Trigger for Handwashing with Soap

Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights 2 (2014)

This is the second issue of Frontiers of CLTS: Innovation and Insights series. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Global Politics of Water Grabbing

Third World Quarterly 34.9 (2013)

The contestation and appropriation of water is not new, but recent global debates on land grabbing are bringing increased attention to a water perspective in these discussions. Water grabbing takes place in a field that is plural-legal, both locally and globally. Formal law has been fostering grabs, both in land and water. More details

Participatory Design Development for Sanitation

Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights 1 (2013)

Sustainability of latrines is a key issue in Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). Sandy or rocky soils, seasonal flooding and termites can present challenges to communities who have taken sanitation into their own hands as a result of CLTS and are building latrines. More details

cover image of publication: Participatory Design Development for Sanitation

Participatory Design Development for Sanitation

Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights;Issue 1 (2013)

In this issue of the Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights series, Ben Cole, who helped UNICEF to adapt and trial participatory latrine design in Malawi, describes the different stages of participatory latrine design and gives practical guidance based on the experiences in Malawi. More details

This is the image for IDS Practice Paper In Brief 13, 'Learning about Qualitative Document Analysis'.

Learning about Qualitative Document Analysis

IDS Practice Paper In Brief 13 (2013)

This paper outlines and reflects on the process of undertaking a Qualitative Document Analysis (QDA) on policy and ‘practice’ documents in the rural water sector. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Politics of Reducing Malnutrition: Building Commitment and Accelerating Progress

The Lancet 382.9891 (2013)

In the past 5 years, political discourse about the challenge of undernutrition has increased substantially at national and international levels and has led to stated commitments from many national governments, international organisations, and donors. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Water and Ill-being: Displaced People and Dam-based Development in India

Chapter 3 in The Social Life of Water, Edited by John Richard Wagner: 'Water and Ill-being: Displaced People and Dam-based Development in India,' by Lyla Mehta. More details

This is the image for IDS Policy Briefing 38, 'Ensuring Women and Girls’ Rights to Water and Sanitation Post-2015'.

Ensuring Women and Girls’ Rights to Water and Sanitation Post-2015

IDS Policy Briefing 38 (2013)

This policy briefing, part of the special MDG series, examines how a post 2015 framework can help ensure women and girls rights to water and sanitation. More details

Non-IDS publication

Sanitation and Stunting in India: Undernutrition's Blind Spot

Economic and Political Weekly XLVIII.25 (2013)

The puzzle of persistent undernutrition in India is largely explained by open defecation, population density, and lack of sanitation and hygiene. The impact on nutrition of many faecally-transmitted infections, not just the diarrhoeas, has been a blind spot. In hygienic conditions much of the undernutrition in India would disappear. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Ensuring Rights to Water and Sanitation for Women and Girls

Access to water and sanitation for all is central to achieving global justice for poor women and men. Even though water and sanitation have been the focus of international development at least since the 1970s, the global aid architecture is straining to solve what appears on the surface a simple problem: how to provide water and sanitation to all. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Sanitation and Hygiene in Africa: Where do We Stand? Analysis from the AfricaSan Conference, Kigali, Rwanda

This book takes stock of progress made by African countries through the AfricaSan process since 2008 and the progress needed to meet the MDG on sanitation by 2015 and beyond. This book addresses priorities which have been identified by African countries as the key elements which need to be addressed in order to accelerate progress. More details

IDS publications on international development research

CLTS in Africa: Trajectories, Challenges and Moving to Scale

This book chapter looks at the progress and maturing of Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in Africa. It introduces innovations and adaptations, poses questions and challenges and suggests possible ways forward as CLTS goes to scale on the continent. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Evolving Urban Health Risks: Housing, Water and Sanitation, and Climate Change

This chapter examines the urban health risk transition and some of its implications. It starts by examining how and why health indicators can counterbalance more conventional economic indicators in assessing the impacts of urban environmental burdens. More details

Voices From the Source

Voices from the source: Struggles with local water security in Ethiopia

This assessment explores local water security in two very different sites in rural Ethiopia – a pastoral district in the eastern Somali region (Shinile), and a somewhat remote agricultural district in the south (Konso). More details

IDS publications on international development research

Community-driven Sanitation Improvement in Deprived Urban Neighbourhood: Meeting the Challenges of Local Collective Action, Co-production, Affordability and a Trans-sectoral Approach

There is an international consensus that urban sanitary conditions are in great need of improvement, but sharp disagreement over how this improvement should be pursued. Both market-driven and state-led efforts to improve sanitation in deprived communities tend to be severely compromised, as there is a lack of effective market demand (due to collective action problems) and severe barriers to the centralized provision of low-cost sanitation facilities. In principle, community-driven initiatives have a number of advantages. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Introduction to the Special Issue: Water Grabbing? Focus on the (Re)Appropriation of Finite Water Resources

Water Alternatives 5.2 (2012)

Recent large-scale land acquisitions for agricultural production (including biofuels), popularly known as 'land grabbing', have attracted headline attention. Water as both a target and driver of this phenomenon has been largely ignored despite the interconnectedness of water and land. More details

This is the cover for IDS Bulletin 43.2 ' ‘Some for All?’ Politics and Pathways in Water and Sanitation'.

'Some for All?' Politics and Pathways in Water and Sanitation

IDS Bulletin 43.2 (2012)

This IDS Bulletin looks back at the legacy of the UN’s New Delhi 1990 global consultation and the Dublin Conference that followed, assessing their meaning and significance, and challenging the wider global water and sanitation community to rethink approaches and emphases, shifting from targets and pronouncement to sustainability and local knowledge. More details