Urban Services

Your gift makes a real difference

With a regular or single gift, you can support our work with poor people in developing countries.

Urban Services blog posts

  • Talking shit at FSM4 Conference – Feedback on our sanitation work in Bangladesh
    Talking about shit for a week in India — a fascinating context to present our sanitation work! India, a country that has undertaken a huge and ambitious national scale clean-up campaign (‘Swachh Bharat’ /’Clean India Mission’), hosted the 4th Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Conference in Chennai this February. In total, 1,100 practitioners, governments and private sector representatives from all over the world participated in the conference. This was a truly unique sharing and visibility opportunity for our organisation. As a result, we ran out of […]
  • Role of women waste pickers in Dhaka
    Beneath the glaring afternoon sun, I watch as a woman crouches roadside at the base of a city garbage container, referred to as a “dustbin”. Using her unprotected hands, she dutifully sorts through the waste, separating out non-perishable items of value such as plastic, paper, and glass. These items are placed in a woven basket to be sold to a local scrap shop and then recycled. She is considered a “tokai”- a waste picker. She is one of the estimated […]
  • Waste and recycling: health concerns herald technology change
    Waste recyclers in Lima, the capital of Peru, have overcome tremendous adversities to function as a recognised and legitimate sector. When they had started to pick waste around the city, they were branded ‘nut cases’ or drug addicts and were sometimes chased away by the police when foraging for recyclables. This presented a social challenge since they became a marginalized group. After unionizing and pursuing their labour rights, the Peruvian government passed the ‘Law of the Recycler’ in 2009- the […]
  • Nairobi’s informal water vendors: heroes or villains?
    Nairobi’s informal settlements are places of startling juxtaposition. Holding 60% of the city’s population on only 5% of the total land mass, they house some of the nation’s poorest citizens and immigrants at the edge of Eastern Africa’s most developed city. Change has flooded in in some respects, contrasting with persistent socio-economic divides. While almost all residents have access to a mobile phone network, for example, very few have access to clean drinking water. The statistics available on poverty levels are […]
  • World Toilet Day 2015: good news and bad news
    But Mummy, I CAAAAN’T WAIT – the familiar cry for anyone with children. Fortunately we live in a place where a safe, clean toilet our children can easily use, with soap and water on hand, is never far away. But this basic human right is not available to everyone. #wecantwait is the theme for this year’s World Toilet Day on 19th November. BAD NEWS: The 2015 JMP report finds that 2.4 billion people are still without access to improved sanitation […]
  • Global Handwashing Day 2015: Raise a hand for hygiene
    ‘Have you washed your hands?’ – a phrase that’s part of the repertoire of every parent’s cracked record soundtrack that includes other phrases such as ‘Come on!’ and ‘please stop poking your brother’… This week however, that global chorus gets amplified with multiple events in villages, towns and schools all over the world as people celebrate Global Handwashing Day on 15th October. Practical Action will be leading celebrations or taking part in them in at least four countries across Asia […]
  • World Habitat Day: Why public spaces matter for the urban poor
    This week the world marked World Habitat Day under the theme of Public Spaces for All. The day celebrates the importance of the world’s cities and human settlements to our global economy and well-being. The day has added significance this year because, for the first time, the role of cities and human settlements has been recognised as a key driver of development. It has been included as Goal 11 of the newly passed ‘Sustainable Development Goals’. Practical Action was part […]
  • New SDG on WASH is great, but 3 things to watch for
    Since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed in 2000, the profile and importance of access to an ‘improved’ source of drinking water and sanitation has risen. A landmark was achieved in 2010 with the passing of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. Ending open defecation has become a key topic for UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson. Many governments have set themselves challenging commitments and targets. And as part of the set of Sustainable Development Goals to be […]
  • What the increasing use of desalination means for the world
    Hundreds of new desalination plants are cropping up across the globe to meet the growing needs for water – estimated to be increasing by an astonishing 640bn liters per year. But as the world looks towards technology to solve the growing crisis of fresh water access, what does this mean for people and our planet? Access Issues Only 2% of the world’s water is drinkable or useful for farming and sanitation. The vast majority of this unique life-giving resource is saltwater, […]
  • Just throw it on the ground! Waste disposal in Nairobi’s informal settlements
    From May, 2015, three university students joined Practical Action, Eastern Africa, as interns within the Urban WASH team to assist in conducting research for the “Technology and the Future of Work” project, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The WASH intern team consists of Eric Mugaa and Charles Kwena, both in their fifth year at the University of Nairobi in the Civil Engineering programme, and Megan Douglas, a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh in the International Development programme. The […]
We use cookies to provide a consistent user experience and analyse how to improve our sites Our cookie policy