This document presents the emerging findings from a year long preliminary piece of analytical work on the supply of water and sanitation services in small towns. The purpose was to attempt to synthesise existing knowledge and identify promising approaches. In a rapidly urbanising world where small town growth, in both size and number, is rapidly outstripping that of larger urban centres, we urgently need to find new approaches to ensure the provision of these basic services. The authors and their organisations are keen to test some of the many assumptions that can be found throughout the document.

The opportunity, as provided through a planning grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has afforded us the scope to explore well beyond the more traditional areas of the water and sanitation sectors using six countries (four African and two Asian) as the basis for this initial analysis. The challenge throughout has been to find an organising framework on which to hang the many different kinds of information and wide-ranging perspectives that emerged over the year. The authors are keen to understand whether the approach taken resonates with practitioners and policymakers.

For more information on the methodology and key research questions, please refer to Annex: Our approach to the task.