Pro-Poor Sanitation Innovations
Stimulating Local Innovation on Sanitation For the Urban Poor in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia


UNESCO-IHE, The Netherlands, and the following partners: Makerere University in Uganda, KNUST in Ghana, AIT in Thailand, 2iE in Burkina Faso, ITB in Indonesia, UCT in South Africa, UFMG in Brasil, and Univalle in Colombia were awarded a US$8 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will be used to finance a 5-year capacity building and research project to stimulate local innovation on sanitation for the urban poor in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia.

The project has two principal objectives: (i) to stimulate local innovation on sanitation for the urban poor through research, and (ii) to strengthen the sanitation sector in developing countries through education and training.

The direct beneficiaries of the project are individuals from developing countries and academic institutions involved in the project that are instrumental in stimulating local innovation on sanitation for the ultimate recipients of the project outcomes ‐ the urban poor in sub‐Saharan Africa and South‐East Asia.

The project will: (i) increase the number of adequately trained sanitation professionals in developing countries, (ii) provide research possibilities, education and training for the new generation of ‘all‐round’ sanitary engineers, (iii) make (post‐graduate) education in sanitary engineering more accessible to individuals from developing countries, and (iv) further strengthen the pro‐poor sanitation component at the academic institutions involved.

The 5‐year project (2011‐2016) will be jointly executed by UNESCO‐IHE (principal grantee) and 8 partners from developing countries in sub‐Saharan Africa, South‐East Asia and South America (sub‐grantees), supported by several external sub‐contracting parties and individuals.


The project contains 7 components: (i) the post‐doctoral program; (ii) the doctoral program and PhD scholarships; (iii) masters education and MSc scholarships; (iv) the new online Masters in Sanitary Engineering and scholarships; (v) two new online training courses; (vi) the new Professional Diploma and scholarships; and (vii) online courses and scholarships, and it targets more than 600 direct individual beneficiaries.

Research Themes

The research part of the project is clustered around 5 thematic areas/packages on pro‐urban poor sanitation, each to be coordinated by one partner (the Research Package Leader - RPL): (i) smart sanitation provision for slums and informal settlements (Makerere University); (ii) emergency sanitation following natural and anthropological disasters (UNESCO-IHE); (iii) resource‐oriented decentralized sanitation (AIT); (iv) low‐cost wastewater collection and treatment (2iE); and (v) faecal sludge management (KNUST).

Project Outcomes

Outcomes of the project can be summarized as: (i) the research capacity and facilities of the partner institutions will be enhanced; (ii) an international academic network on pro‐poor sanitation will be established; (iii) practical applications of innovation in sanitation for the urban poor will be put in place; (iv) a proposal for the business spin‐offs will be developed; (v) human resource capacity will be increased in the sanitation sector; and (vi) there will be increased access of professionals from developing countries to education and training.