WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities’ Water and Sanitation 15-City Study

Data supporting the World Resources Report "Towards a More Equal City", which details household water and sanitation access in 15 cities of the global South.

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To address the absence of comparable city-level water data, this dataset compiles data from 15 global South cities located in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America and among the regions that are the focus of the World Resources Report (WRR) "Towards a More Equal City". The 15 cities are Kampala, Uganda; Lagos, Nigeria; Maputo, Mozambique; Mzuzu, Malawi; Nairobi, Kenya; Bengaluru, India; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Karachi, Pakistan; Mumbai, India; Caracas, Venezuela; Cochabamba, Bolivia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; São Paulo, Brazil; and Santiago de Cali, Colombia.

To compile a data set on each city, we collaborated with local researchers who had a minimum of seven years of experience in the water sector. Data were obtained from a combination of interviews, fieldwork in an informal settlement, publicly available data sets, administrative records, websites, and project documents. Researchers in each city conducted an average of seven key informant interviews.

Data were collected about household water and sanitation access at the city level and fieldwork was conducted in one informal settlement in each city. The dataset includes cost, % coverage, availability, and cost burdens on household water and sanitation practices; water intermittency; household treatment practices; access to facilities; citywide sanitation infrastructure; cost of on-site sanitation construction, and fecal sludge removal; fees for piped sewage; the lining of pit latrines; and proximity of septic tanks and pit latrines to water sources. At the city level, data were collected on the water utility, the city’s sources of water, and the water utility’s legal and administrative status.

We augmented the city-level data with fieldwork and data from one informal settlement in each city, for two reasons: (1) city-level data are usually presented in averages and thus tend to mask extremes at both ends of the socioeconomic distribution; and (2) in many cities, informal settlements are excluded from formal city-level statistics because their land occupation is considered illegal. To select the informal settlement in each city, the researchers identified a centrally located, well-established settlement that did not represent either the city’s “best” or “worst” conditions but instead represented challenges to water access common in similar settlements in the city.


The dataset for each city includes comparable data for one informal settlement. The selected informal settlement is not necessarily representative of patterns across all informal settlements. For example, centrally located informal settlements may be connected to formal networks, whereas informal settlements on the periphery are not and would have drastically different experiences with respect to the access, affordability, and quality of water and sanitation services.

All currency figures were converted to US$ using market exchange rates based on the time of data collection. For a full list of sources and notes, please view the published dataset tables in corresponding publications: "Unaffordable and Undrinkable: Rethinking Urban Water Access in the Global South" and "Untreated and Unsafe: Solving the Urban Sanitation Crisis in the Global South".


WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities’ Water and Sanitation 15-City Study. 2018. World Resources Insititute; Available at https://datasets.wri.org/dataset/wri_water_sanitation_15_cities_study.

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License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Full license text available at Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


Project: World Resources Report,Towards a More Equal City

Page Last Updated: June 11, 2021

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