• Awarded: 2014
  • Issue Areas: Clean Water · Health · Sanitation
  • Region: Central and Southern Asia · Eastern and Southern Africa · West and Central Africa
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) was established in 2005 and has quickly become recognized as a leader in the urban water, sanitation, and hygiene sector, demonstrating how multi-sector partnerships can have significant impact.

    Their mission is to improve the lives of the urban poor in developing countries by strengthening the capacity of service providers and others to provide sustainable water and sanitation services, promote good hygiene, and raise the health and environmental standards of the community.

    Their approach emphasizes planning to achieve sustainable change at scale. They do this by demonstrating financially viable approaches to serving low-income areas, and using this as a basis for advocating for wider scale-up of such approaches by service providers, as well as local and national governments and their partners.

    So far WSUP has helped more than 1.8 million people access improved water services, provided more than 760,000 with improved sanitation, and brought improved hygiene practices to more than 5.7 million.

    More than 300 million slum dwellers worldwide lack access to clean water, and nearly a billion lack basic sanitation.

    WSUP advisors work with providres in low-income areas, and help residents of those areas own and manage their own utility systems

    Sam Parker envisioned a system in which customers would willingly pay for improved service.

    WSUP is helping to build sustainable water and sanitation systems in Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zambia.

    Ambition for Change

    Local utility services provide safe, sustainable access to clean water and sanitation, improving health and living standards for the urban poor.

    Path to Scale

    Build Capacity in Existing Systems

    WSUP Advisors work with governments and providers, with tools and guidance to enhance capacity and improve services, replicating the experience of communities in core countries where WSUP works directly.

    Business Model

    Income from business lines of work (WSUP Enterprise, WSUP Advisory) supplements development aid and philanthropy in support of WSUP programs.

    Sam Parker started his career in business, working in the agrochemical industry. His path to becoming the first CEO of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) started on a business trip to Brazil, where a visit to a safe house for street children inspired him to start a foundation that taught him the difficulties of systems change and the importance of community engagement. He returned to business for another decade but came back to his passion for helping children with a role at International Save the Children Alliance, and then joined WSUP in 2006. He led WSUP’s development of incentives for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) providers to serve low-income areas, and means for residents of those areas to own and manage their own utility systems, through a “toolkit” of business and management models, technical assistance, and access to finance.   At the time of the Award, this had led to access to clean water for more than a million people in six countries, and safe sanitation for more than 350,000. WSUP was providing advisory services to large institutions such as the European Investment Bank and the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program. Sam left WSUP in early 2015 and was succeeded as CEO by Neil Jeffery, an expert on provision of sustainable energy to low-income consumers, and former director of Renewable World.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • 50 percent increase in the reach of its services in its six “core” countries (Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zambia).
    • 75 percent of communities served show improvements in metrics of quality of water and sanitation services.
    • Joined USAID’s 100 Cities initiative in India, with a goal of universal access to a toilet by 2020.

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