Watch the session
Equity & Inclusion

Equitable water and sanitation provision in low Income areas and informal settlements: how to achieve the human right to water and sanitation

Tuesday, 23 May 2023
13:30 — 15:00
Bonn Room
Water Integrity Network (WIN), Nakuru Government (UN Habitat), WaterAid, Eastern Umbrella of Water and Sanitation - Uganda, Ghana Water Company Ltd. (GWCL), VEI, Lima Water Utility Company (SEDAPAL) and Engineers Without Borders Denmark and Novafos (membership in progress)

The exclusion of low-income areas and informal settlements from formal water and sanitation supply provision has been highly debated in many parts of the world. Supporters claim that it is inadequate to invest public resources in areas of illegal land tenure status because it can contribute to chaotic and disorganized urban growth. Opponents suggest that nobody should be denied access to water and sanitation services as they are essential for health and well-being. In the absence of water and sanitation provisions, residents of low-income areas and informal settlements tend to resort to diverse practices to secure access to services. In some cases, these everyday negotiations are often exposed to different forms of corruption, such as bribe payments, patronage interests, and vote-lobbying, at the detriment of marginalized groups, who are forced to pay high prices for low water quality. Against this background, how do we explain the general lack of or inadequate water and sanitation services in low-income areas and informal settlements, and who should be responsible for service improvement?

Based on concrete experiences in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the aim of the session is to explore different efforts done by utility companies, WOPs, public authorities, and civil society organizations to extend services to low-income areas and informal settlements and discuss the challenges they face on the ground. This session will particularly focus on four areas:

Land tenure and urban planning: There is a close link between land tenure and water and sanitation provision. Low-income areas and informal settlements tend to be excluded from formal water and sanitation supply because of being unprofitable or because their land tenure status is not recognised. However, there is still a responsibility to deliver services. How do we take care of basic service provision in low-income areas and informal settlements during the planning process? and how do utility companies address the regulatory and institutional framework?

Accountability, transparency, and participation: Residents of low-income areas and informal settlements deserve recognition as active members of the urban fabric with the same rights as other urban residents. Such recognition is fundamental to securing adequate water and sanitation services. Do the main questions revolve around What kind of legal mechanisms are available for residents in low-income areas and informal settlements to hold governments and utility companies accountable? And how can different actors use integrity and support the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation?

Water affordability: Residents of low-income areas and informal settlements often pay more than wealthier neighbors for water and sanitation services. This is a profound issue of integrity because the system is penalizing the people that are living in poverty. This area explores different mechanisms to provide affordable access to services (e.g., cross-subsidization, tariff setting, and regulations). It discusses how utility companies articulate the human right to water and sanitation compared to issues of economic efficiency.

Embracing technological development and innovation: Utility companies have undertaken significant investments to integrate digital technologies in the provision of water and sanitation services. Many of these technologies have been implemented in low-income areas and informal settlements (e.g., M-Water, Call centers). To what extent do these digital tools provide opportunities to improve service provision and increase transparency and accountability? And how do residents appropriate these technologies?

— Session Programme

Introduction - 5 minutes

- the aim of the session

- introduction of the topics/ speakers

Marcela López (Water Integrity Network, WIN)


Opening remarks - 5 minutes

Key messages from a workshop on sanitation in informal urban settlements - pointing at realistic solutions for accelerating improvements. Workshop at IWA Congress held September 2022.

Ida Holm Olesen (Engineers Without Borders Denmark and Novafos)

Land tenure and urban planning - 7 minutes

David Kuria (City Management, Urban Planning, and Urban Basic Services, Nakuru city)

Accountability, transparency, and participation - 14 minutes (2 presentations, each 7)

Puneet Srivastava (WaterAid UK) & Julio Héctor Milla Altabás (Lima Water Utility Company, SEDAPAL)


Water affordability - 7-minutes

Faustina Boachie (Ghana Water Company Ltd., GWCL)

Embracing technological development and innovation - 7 minutes

Patrick Kayizzi (Eastern Umbrella of Water and Sanitation, Uganda)

Questions and panel discussion - 40 minutes

Panelists: (statement/ discussion points will be shared on forehand with the panelists)


- who is responsible for addressing the basic right of drinking water and sanitation for those living in

low-income areas and informal settlements

- share input/ questions/ statements for the moderator

Moderator: Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Programme Lead


Closing remarks: including promoting Community of Practice - 5 minutes

Moderator: Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Programme Lead