Urban water, sanitation & waste services

More than half the world's people live in urban centres. Slum populations are increasing by 10% each year and 1.8 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces. Despite growing demand, there is a global lack of expertise in sanitation, hygiene and waste, especially in poor urban communities. We are working to provide technical assistance and advice in these areas to improve systems such as solid waste management. We do this by improving the work of existing informal pit emptiers through adapted public-private sector partnerships.

Practical Action Consulting (PAC) has an integrated, systemic and community-led approach to urban services. We work at grass-roots level to build partnerships with local service providers and deliver what is most important - access to technologies tailored to what users actually need. We use this approach to empower communities to establish viable social enterprises so that services can become more efficient and create job opportunities, especially for young people.

We focus on an initial continuous assessment of the context, opportunities and challenges to inform the support to improved services and more sustainable businesses. We have developed outstanding expertise in systems thinking, multi-stakeholder facilitation and participatory markets approaches. This enables us to help design inclusive business models, access appropriate infrastructure, technology and equipment and map the market systems of sanitation and solid waste value chains.

Our expertise in this area includes :

  • Water, sanitation and hygiene

    Our work in urban services focuses on providing access to clean water and toilets. We are well known for our innovative ways of collecting and recycling human waste into commercial by-products. In particularly poor areas of South Asia, technologies for managing faecal sludge (FSM) are essential for safe sanitation. We develop systems for FSM in ways which improve the work of existing informal pit emptiers through adapted public-private sector partnerships.

    Our influential position means we can inspire a wider adoption of our approach by governments and donors, ensuring provision of safe services that the needs of the poorest people, especially women.

  • Rubbish management

    For communities living in poverty, small-scale technologies such as bio-gas generation and organic fertiliser production can make an enormous impact on people’s lives. We focus on facilitating the participation of poor communities in decision making on urban services. We support them so that they are able to access services in a sustainable way and this helps them to establish their own enterprises.

  • Enabling communities to drive the provision of urban services

    We work with both authorities and communities to drive the adoption of sustainable urban services in informal settlements such as slum areas.

Our flagship urban services project

Building healthy communities (Swachh Samudai)

The problem Poor sanitation in Choudwar, a city in Odisha state in India, causes frequent cases of diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid and gastroenteritis in the population and also create issues of safety and security for women and girls. In the 17 slum areas of the city le...

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See more of our work on urban water, sanitation & waste services

Contact us


telephone: +44 (0) 1926 634403

fax: +44 (0) 1926 634405



Practical Action Consulting
The Robbins Building
25 Albert Street
Rugby, Warwickshire
CV21 2SD, United Kingdom


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