Water and Waste


A tricycle delivers bags of sachet water in Greater Accra (photo credit: Dr. Mawuli Dzodzomenyo, University of Ghana)

According to WHO/UNICEF (https://washdata.org/), whilst 91.8% of urban households in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) had access to piped or protected groundwater sources in 2015, only 46.2% had safely managed water available when needed. 

Vendors provide a key role in supplying urban off-grid populations, with consumption of bottled or bagged water (sachets, water sold in 500ml plastic bags) growing in SSA. 

Whilst several studies show bottles and bags are usually free from faecal contamination, given that many off-grid urban populations lack solid waste disposal services, when people drink such water, there can be problems disposing of the plastic bags and bottles afterwards.

This project aims to better understand the inter-connections between water and waste for off-grid urban populations and what this means for plastic waste management.

Drainage channel blocked by uncollected waste in Greater Accra (photo credit: Dr. Heini Vaisanen, University of Southampton)

Sachet water production plant in Greater Accra (photo credit: Dr. Mawuli Dzodzomenyo, University of Ghana)

We plan to do this in Ghana, where most urban households now drink bagged water, and by way of contrast, Kenya, where the government has banned plastic bags. By better understanding the inter-connections between waste, water and even sanitation, we aim to promote more joined-up planning of water and waste services, bringing manufacturers of goods like water sachets or disposable diapers around the table with water, sanitation, and waste specialists.

In this way, we want to widen access to safe water and waste management services among urban off-grid populations, by supporting water-sellers and waste collectors to fill the gaps in municipal services