IWA seeks to reshape the global urban sanitation agenda through inclusive approach

IWA recently launched a new initiative on Inclusive Urban Sanitation which seeks to reshape the global urban sanitation agenda focusing on the need for an accelerated and inclusive approach to expanding safe service coverage – beyond just technology advancements and infrastructural development.  

The initiative was formally presented at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark (11-15 September 2022). The IWA Congress put a strong accent on the importance of sustainable and inclusive sanitation. This was demonstrated by a keynote plenary presenting “A Roadmap for Achieving SDG 6.2, Sanitation for All and How to Connect the Unconnected” where Nathalie Olijslager, Programme Director for the 2023 UN Water Conference highlighted the crucial role played by women which very often provide water in villages and communities. Sanitation for all can be achieved especially thanks to the contribution of women and girls. With capacity building, upskilling and inclusivity practices, they can be involved in the maintenance and reparation of water systems. Other global experts further highlighted the need to think out of the box for improved and sustainable sanitation services.  

Suresh Rohilla, Inclusive Urban Sanitation Programme Lead, added: “We are thrilled to see a rise in support for inclusive WASH globally. Our initiative will draw up a framework with wide practical applicability to define global goals and fundamentals of a public service approach to outcomes that can advance inclusive urban sanitation, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Achieving safe, inclusive sanitation service outcomes requires dynamic governance and public service systems that incentivise delivery of public good outcomes.  This initiative on ensuring that sanitation is inclusive encompasses resilience to climate change and adoption of circular economy principles – covering sanitation as an integral element of urban water sustainability’ 

In a bid to strengthen and promote strategic and collaborative relationships in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), during the Congress IWA has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with regional water and sanitation associations: African Water Association (AfWA); Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Association (ESAWAS) Regulators Association; and National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA). These partnerships will go a long way in promoting Inclusive Urban Sanitation in LMICs. 


Inclusive Sanitation Case Stories

As part of the Inclusive Urban Sanitation Initiative, 11 case stories were published under three broad themes: Policy and Regulation; Gender, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Sanitation Services and Faecal Sludge Management (FSM). The stories aim to inspire urban stakeholders to discuss ways for advancing inclusive urban sanitation, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Find out more about the stories here.


More initiatives

Three strategic workshops were also held, with over 80 participants. TheLearnings from Inclusive Urban Sanitation Initiative workshop provided an opportunity to initiate discussions to advance an inclusive sanitation agenda on a global scale. From the session, it was evident that political will, effective data utilisation, and strong systems are critical in advancing this agenda. The “Gender Equality, Leadership and Inclusion in the WASH sector workshop provided an interactive session whereby participants critically reflected on key successes, enablers and challenges that gender minorities and other marginalised individuals or groups face during the 5 stages of the employment cycle – diagnostic, attraction, recruitment, retention, and advancement. This was aimed at promoting more inclusive WASH workplaces. A key highlight of the workshop on “Policy to practice dialogue for mainstreaming Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in river-basin and citieswas a keynote presentation that showcased successful integration of NbS in both a developed and a developing urban context, aimed at promoting integrated urban water management. Overall, keynote speakers and panelists shared learnings from diverse geographies and socio-economic contexts across all 3 workshops. 

In the coming months, IWA intends to organise webinar series and publish more stories and blogs to amplify the agenda on Inclusive Urban Sanitation and NbS. A webinar on Transforming the water and sanitation workforce: Diversity and Inclusion practices is scheduled for 26 September 2022, and an in-person training in India will take place on 1 December 2022, more information will follow. These events are being organised in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS-ISF). 

Join the discussion online using #SanitAction to promote inclusivity for resilient, water-wise, and sanitation-secure cities!