IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Community participation is key for connecting populations to centralised water, sanitation or electricity, review finds

23 November 2016


The UCL Institute of Education's Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI), in partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), has published a systematic review of urban planning in developing countries.

The review, published for World Toilet Day, investigates different approaches to delivering access to clean water, electricity and sanitation.

It found that services provided by public or private agencies through centralised planning and installation (top down) look promising, although effort is also required by non-governmental organisations or local agencies (bottom up) to customise services to local need.

Bottom up approaches were proved to be most effective for local sanitation solutions; particularly for the construction and maintenance of toilets in individual homes.

Professor Sandy Oliver, Deputy Director of the EPPI Centre, said:

"This report offers international evidence from 104 studies to support decisions about how to serve these people better. It relied on engineering expertise of Indian academics and our research methods expertise at UCL. This is one of many partnerships in which UK social scientists are strengthening the capacity of researchers in developing countries to synthesise evidence about important social problems."

Professor Thillai Rajan, Department of Management Studies, IITM and the Principal Investigator of the project said:

"Urban planning agencies in developing countries face a tremendous challenge of providing access to basic services to the urban poor, particularly people living in urban slums because governments and householders are reluctant to invest where residents have no security of tenure. Working with communities tends to improve access and affordability."

The report was supported by the UK Department for International Development and is available publicly for any initiatives aiming to extend access to clean water, electricity or sanitation. 

The full report is now available on the EPPI Centre website.