Case Studies in USSWM

Compiled by:
Ralph Philip, ICLEI European Secretariat

Executive Summary

This section provides case studies covering a number of aspects concerning the management of the urban water cycle. Topics include urban sanitation, water demand management and river restoration as well as examples from cities that have looked to implement an integrated approach to urban water management as a whole. While many of the case studies refer to technological solutions, the intention has been rather to collate examples which highlight good practice in integrated planning, stakeholder engagement and institutional coordination. As such, the majority of the case studies presented have been developed based on initiatives implemented with direct local government involvement such as the ‘ACCESSanitation – Accelerating City-to-City Exchange for Sustainable Sanitation’ (ICLEI Europe 2010) and ‘SWITCH Managing Water for the City of the Future’ (SWITCH n.y.) projects.

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References Library

ICLEI Europe (Editor) (2010): ACCESSanitation. Accelerating City-to-City Exchange for Sustainable Sanitation. URL [Accessed: 12.06.2013].

SWITCH (Editor) (n.y.): SWITCH. Managing Water for the City of the Future. URL [Accessed: 12.06.2013].

Case Studies Library

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CHATURVEDULA, S.; SADHUKHAN, B. (2012): Ahmedabad Parivartan Programme. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability - South Asia. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

The Parivartan programme, launched by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, aims to mobilise local residents and secure a commitment to the financing and maintenance of water supply, sewerage and drainage infrastructure in slum settlements through a combination of municipal, community and private investment.


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HAWKINS, P.; MUXIMPUA, O. (2011): Maputo, Mozambique. The Potential of Local Monitoring to Stimulate Sanitation Behaviour Change. WSP-Mozambique. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

In the Nlhamankulo Urban District in Mozambique, neighbourhood leaders utilised monitoring at the community level as a powerful tool to mobilise householders in informal settlements to upgrade and improve the cleanliness of their self-built latrines. The methodology used provides an entry point for sanitation upgrading as it is pro-poor, cost effective, based on existing structures and mainstreams the need for improved water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and practices.


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LOFTUS, A.C. (2011): Stockholm, Sweden. A Vision of Integrated Urban Planning Comes to Life in Stockholm’s HammarbySjöstadDistrict. Freiburg: ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 06.02.2013].

HammarbySjöstad’s holistic environmental vision incorporates aspects relating to waste, energy and water as part of one sustainable system. This vision is encompassed within the “Hammarby Model,” an eco-cycle which promotes the integration of various technical supply systems, so that the waste from one system becomes a resource of another.


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LOFTUS, A.C. (2011): Lima, Peru. Reuse of Treated Wastewater for Urban Greening and Agriculture. Freiburg: ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

Lima’s wastewater has a strong potential for reuse given Lima’s context of water scarcity and its citizens’ need for green spaces and peri-urban agriculture. Lima has worked with stakeholders to influence national legislation on wastewater reuse and to develop a demonstration project: a multifunctional city park using treated wastewater.


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LOFTUS, A.C. (2011): Lodz, Poland. River Restoration as a Catalyst for Sustainable Urban Development. Freiburg ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

Lodz continues to feel the environmental, economic and social impacts of industrialisation and subsequent manufacturing decline. It is focusing its urban regeneration efforts in part on river restoration, which has involved building reservoirs, inventing a stormwaterbiofiltration system and developing a wider plan for the river valley.


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LOFTUS, A.C. (2011): Tel Aviv, Israel. Treating Wastewater for Reuse Using Natural Systems. SWITCH Training Kit Case Study. Freiburg: ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 24.08.2011].

This case study includes the challenges the Shafdan treatment plant in Israel has experienced since the 1970’s; the new technologies that are applied and the lessons learned.


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MITROTTA, E. (2011): Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne: The “City as a Catchment” Approach. Freiburg: ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 06.02.2013].

Case study describing Melbourne’s adoption of a “water sensitive city” approach and the implementation of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) techniques. This includes using an integrated approach to reduce its water consumption, exploit non-conventional sources of water supply and use alternative techniques to manage its stormwater runoff.


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PHILIP, R. (2011): Zaragoza, Spain. Reducing Water Demand and Establishing a Water Saving Culture in the City. Freiburg: ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

Faced with severe water shortages, an expanding population and deteriorating water infrastructure, Zaragoza has responded by embarking on an ambitious water conservation programme that has succeeded in establishing a ‘water saving culture’ among businesses, industry and the local population.


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QUAYLE, T. (2012): Atlantis, South Africa. Recycling Wastewater to Bolster Ground Water Supply:The Atlantis Story. Cape Town: ICLEI Africa. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

The satellite town of Atlantis, South Africa has a long history of recharging its storm water and treated wastewater into its sandy soils as a means of augmenting its limited water supplies. Such has been the success of these cost-effective artificial recharge solutions that they are being replicated elsewhere within southern Africa where water resources are scarce.


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QUAYLE, T. (2012): Mathare 10, Nairobi, Kenya. Piloting Urban Community-Led Total Sanitation Approaches in an Underserved Informal Settlement in Kenya. Cape Town: ICLEIAfrica. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

The piloting of Urban Community-Led Total Sanitation approaches in an under-served informal settlement known as Mathare 10 in Nairobi, Kenya, has clearly demonstrated the viability of this approach in an urban setting, particularly within informal, peri-urban and marginalised urban settlements.


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QUAYLE, T. (2012): Niamey, Niger. Wastewater Treatment and Water Recycling for Biomass Production in Niamey, Niger. Cape Town: ICLEI Africa. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

Combining wastewater treatment with water recycling and biomass production has been shown to be a viable alternative to traditional wastewater treatment systems in peri-urban areas. Research in Niamey, Niger, indicates that the introduction of plant species such as duckweed to stabilisation ponds provides improved water quality as well as additional income generation through the harvesting of biomass for animal feed.


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QUAYLE, T. (2012): Otjiwarongo, Namibia. An Innovative, Locally Adapted, Dry Sanitation System for Arid Regions. Cape Town: ICLEI Africa. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

A dry sanitation system known as the Otji Toilet has been developed in Namibia as a low cost and viable solution to sanitation in the water scarce country. Compared to that of traditional water borne sanitation systems, the Otji Toilet uses minimal quantities of water thereby reducing the amount households spend on monthly water bills.


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QUAYLE, T. (2012): Lichinga, Mozambique. Innovative Marketing: Removing the Barriers to Ecological Sanitation in Lichinga, Niassa Province, Mozambiqze. Cape Town: ICLEI Africa. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

In a unique case of awareness raising for sanitation, the use of traditional songs by local musicians has proved to be a powerful marketing tool in Mozambique resulting in rapid upscaling and acceptance of ecosan by urban, peri-urban and rural communities. The case study highlights the value of tailor-made and locally adaptable methodology to ensure the success and self-replication of integrated water, sanitation and hygiene programme.


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QUAYLE, T. (2012): Commune de Klouékanmè, Benin. Mobilising Political Will as a Driver in Local Planning for Improved Service Delivery. Cape Town: ICLEI Africa. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

The development and implementation of a local sanitation and hygiene plan by the local government of Klouékanmè in Benin has shown that a comprehensive planning approach, backed by strong political support, has the potential to achieve significant sanitation improvements. In particular, the Benin experience demonstrates the need for local authorities to combine affordable sanitation technologies with awareness raising and education programmes.

Language: Spanish


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QUAYLE, T. (2012): Pook se Bos, Cape Town. MobiSan: Communal Urine Diversion Toilets in Pook se Bos, Cape Town. Cape Town: ICLEI Africa. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

The installation of an innovative MobiSan communal sanitation unit in the informal settlement of Pook se Bos in Cape Town, South Africa, has demonstrated how such decentralised solutions can be ideal for informal settlements where the water table is high and, due to land ownership issues, the municipality has limited ability to provide formal sanitation services.


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QUAYLE, T. (2012): Embangweni, Malawi. Community Driven Demand for Improved Sanitation Facilities. Cape Town: ICLEI Africa. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

Decreasing soil fertility and increasing costs of artificial fertiliser prompted the residents of Embangweni, Malawi, mainly subsistence farmers, to adopt ecological sanitation in their households. This provided the residents with treated human waste in the form of an economically viable fertiliser. A rapid uptake of the ecosan ideas occurred once the residents observed the link between the cost effective and rich fertiliser with a subsequent increase in crop yield in their fields. As a result, more than 1,500 ecosan toilets were constructed in Embangweni, and a total of 6,023 ecosan latrines having been constructed nationwide in Malawi by June 2005.


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QUAYLE, T. (2012): Lesotho. Low Cost Sanitation Provision in Urban Areas in Lesotho. A Model for Improved Sanitation Coverage. Cape Town: ICLEI Africa. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

Recognising the many issues associated with inadequate sanitation, in the 1980s the Lesotho government launched a large scale sanitation improvement programme based on the installation of VIP latrines. The programme was successful in increasing improved sanitation coverage in urban areas by up to 80% over the course of 20 years by relying on creating demand for among communities rather than supporting implementation through subsidies.


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SADHUKHAN, B.; THAKUR, R.; CHATURVEDULA, S. (2012): Gwalior Municipal Corporation, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Community Managed Sanitation Scheme, Municipal Corporation of Gwalior (2005). Quezon City: ICLEI South Asia. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

Environmental sanitation campaign initiated by the Municipal Corporation of Gwailor which focuses on generating demand among residents for improved access to sanitation, raising awareness on the importance of good sanitary behaviour and capacitating the local community to finance and manage safe sanitation systems.


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SADHUKHAN, B.; THAKUR, R.; CHATURVEDULA, S. (2012): Alandur Municipality, Tamil Nadu. Innovative Community Involvement in PPP Model to Implement an Underground Sewerage System, Alandur Municipality. Quezon City: ICLEISouth Asia. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

Public-private financing scheme initiated by Alandur Municipality which encourages the local population to contribute to the costs of constructing and operating a centralised wastewater treatment system through connection and service provider fees.


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SADHUKHAN, B.; THAKUR, R.; CHATURVEDULA, S. (2012): Agra Nagar Nigam, Agra, Uttar Pradesh. A Decentralized Wastewater Treatment System under the Crosscutting Agra Project (CAP) 2009. Quezon City: ICLEI South Asia. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

The Crosscutting Agra Program (CAP) was launched with the aim of improving wastewater services in the city of Agra and promoting economic growth. The multi-stakeholder initiative has made use of decentralised wastewater management technology and public education campaigns to eliminate the discharge of untreated wastewater and discourage unsanitary behaviour among the local population.


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SADHUKHAN, B.; THAKUR, R.; CHATURVEDULA, S. (2012): Tiruchipalli Municipal Corporation, Tamil Nadu. Community Managed Sanitation Complexes. Quezon City: ICLEI South Asia. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

This case study describes the mobilisation of women's groups in low-income communities to renovate the local toilets and establish a community-based, financially sustainable system for operation and maintenance. The initiative has resulted in more hygienic sanitation facilities within the community, increased awareness of hygiene issues and the empowerment of local women.


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SALIAN, P.; ANTON, B. (2011): The Emscher Region.The Opportunities of Economic Transition for Leapfrogging Urban Water Management. Freiburg: ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

Case study illustrating why the Emscher Region has been able to promote and implement sustainable solutions in its urban water management practices with such a high level of success. Based on a review of literature and expert interviews, the study describes the historic and current perspectives that have influenced the adoption of sustainable water management in the region.


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SALIAN, P.; ANTON, B. (2011): Making Urban Water Management More Sustainable. Achievements in Berlin. Freiburg: ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. URL [Accessed: 28.05.2013].

This case study illustrates why Berlin can be considered as a city on its way to becoming a model for sustainable urban water management. Based on a review of literature and expert interviews, the study describes the historic and current drivers that have influenced this development and fostered research, innovation and practical transformation in Berlin’s water sector.


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MORGAN, P. (2010): Challenges and Key Lessons in Improving Sanitation Services to the Urban Poor Drawing from East and Southern African Experience. Stockholm : Ecological Sanitation Research (EcoSanRes), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). URL [Accessed: 20.06.2013].

This document compiles the experiences and lessons learnt from two urban sanitation projects: Maputo in Mozambique and Durban in South Africa