Urban, Water, and Infrastructure Services
DIG is committed to expanding the frontiers of urban, water, and infrastructure services through innovative programs that help poor families and entrepreneurs around the world increase their income and build their asset base. Illustrative of this point, we have utilized our expert program management and advisory services on a variety of successful endeavors. These key programs include:
Municipal Waste Recycling Program (MWRP) (2016-2020): The Municipal Waste Recycling Program (MWRP) is a four-year,
USAID-funded initiative to address the global problem of marine plastics
pollution, with a focus on Asia. Funded under the Making Cities Work IDIQ, the Program
provides grants and technical assistance to support promising municipal waste
recycling efforts, evaluate their effectiveness, and make recommendations for
future USAID investments in the sector. Asian countries are responsible for
more than half of the mismanaged plastics waste in the world’s oceans. The Program
will thus focus on identifying and scaling innovations that improve solid waste
management (SWM) and recycling practices in three Asian countries that, currently, are experiencing problems with plastics waste entering the marine
environment: the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. With proximity to two
oceans, improving the management of municipal waste in these countries is
imperative to reducing plastics pollution, which threatens human health and
adversely affects the marine environment.
Global Program for Inclusive Municipal Governance (GPIMG) (2010-2015):
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded DIG a contract to support the management of a five-year, USD 25 million municipal governance program. GPIMG focuses on supporting city leadership and community-based partnerships to develop inclusive urban policies so that more and better resources reach the urban poor. Specifically, the program is funding improvements in the delivery of basic services, notably water and sanitation, to the poorest populations in 13 African cities: Lilongwe, Malawi; Monrovia, Liberia; Luanda, Angola; Harare, Zimbabwe; Cairo, Egypt, and eight Ethiopian cities. DIG is helping the foundation achieve its goal of promoting inclusive cities grantees by providing technical assistance and capacity building support, brokering government-civil society relations, monitoring and evaluating program outcomes, and helping grantees comply with their grant agreements. For more information on GPIMG, please click
Urban Advisory Program (2011-2015):
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded DIG a three-year contract to identify urban development investment opportunities benefiting the poor in rapidly-growing African and Indian cities. DIG is helping the foundation identify cities that provide opportunities in the following investment areas: municipal finance, payment systems for basic services, metafinance, and city planning. DIG’s support includes helping municipal governments work with community-based organizations (CBOs) in the formulation and implementation of innovative, replicable programs that address market failures and better channel resources to the poor. By fostering local government-civil society partnerships, the program aims to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of city funds used to tackle urban poverty.
Emergency Capacity Assistance Program (ECAP) (2011-2013): The Emergency Capacity Assistance Program (ECAP) provided technical assistance to local government agencies and other stakeholders tasked with overseeing Haiti’s post-earthquake shelter and settlement activities. With funding from USAID, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and DIG, in collaboration with the Government of Haiti, leveraged local Haitian, diaspora and international experts to assist Haitian institutions with reconstruction planning. Professionals with skills in shelter and settlement planning and proficiency in French and/or Creole were placed within national and municipal government agencies tasked with the reconstruction, as well as with USAID partners and local communities. These experts in urban planning, civil and structural engineering, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), architecture, business, law, economics and the environment helped to build the capacity of ministries and municipal governments and formulate national and local policy. Projects included shelter and settlement reconstruction, basic service delivery, urban/community planning and management, land use and tenure, disaster management, and the resettlement and integration of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Specifically, ECAP provided technical assistance in support of IDP resettlement in Petion-Ville and greater Port-au-Prince, and new settlements under development in Cabaret, Croix de Bouquets and in the north between Cap Haïtien and Ouanaminthe, notably Caracol Ekam.
Emergency Community Assistance and Planning (ECAP) for Shelter and Settlement in Post-Earthquake Haiti (2010-2011): Funded by USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), ECAP was a nine-month emergency program designed to provide community-focused, on-the-ground technical support to the agencies of government tasked with overseeing Haiti’s post-earthquake shelter and settlement initiatives. The program was designed by Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and the Development Innovations Group (DIG) in consultation with representatives from the Government of Haiti (GOH). ECAP addressed the capacity and technical needs of the GOH in the areas of shelter and settlement planning. By providing a cadre of Haitian professionals offering critical support to relevant ministries as well as national and local-level agencies, ECAP represented the first concerted and systematic effort to channel the skills of heretofore untapped Haitian Diaspora members. ECAP’s urban planners, architects, engineers and environmental experts also provided technical assistance to OFDA grantees that were working on shelter and settlement issues in Haiti. This support entailed: site planning studies; improved housing design and housing finance options; and new shelter and settlement policies.
Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa (SUWASA) (2009-2013)
: Under USAID’s Water II IQC, SUWASA aims to promote
innovative reforms and sustainable financing for water and sanitation. As a
subcontractor to Tetra Tech ARD, DIG serves as the primary partner on
innovative financing for water and sanitation services. To date, DIG has
conducted missions to design projects in Kenya, Senegal and Mali to facilitate
innovative partnerships among banks, utility companies, small service providers
and CBOs. Under SUWASA, DIG has achieved the following:
In Kenya, DIG implemented the first long-term
project to be funded under SUWASA: the SUWASA Kenya Initiative. SUWASA Kenya
was a two and a half-year project promoting innovative
financing for water and sanitation in two primary cities in Kenya. Under this
initiative, DIG helped utilities access USD 255,720 in capital, which enabled them
to expand their water and sanitation services to informal settlements. Based on
this success, USAID is providing funding to scale up the innovative model to up
to six additional cities in Kenya. (For additional information on the SUWASA
Kenya Initiative, please refer to the Financial Services section.)
In Senegal, DIG helped to identify sustainable
solutions to fecal sludge management by examining stakeholder roles and
capacity, current sanitation practices, and existing disposal facilities. DIG
analyzed existing challenges and potential opportunities to improve the
efficiency and sustainability of the fecal sludge management system. To achieve
this objective, DIG built stakeholder consensus at the national government,
municipal, and service provider levels to establish public-private partnerships
between the local government and fecal sludge haulers (
promote affordable as well as safe fecal sludge extraction, transportation,
disposal, and treatment.
In Mali, DIG recommended the design of a
sustainable sanitation framework that builds on and reinforces decentralization
reforms and that maximizes available resources to increase access to adequate
Strategic Support for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Investments in Ethiopia (2012): The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded DIG a contract to develop a concept note on testing service delivery models for fecal sludge management in Ethiopian cities. DIG conducted a rapid landscape analysis, facilitated a workshop, and identified key gaps and opportunities in the fecal sludge management value chain. Based on the findings of this assessment, DIG recommended areas where the Gates Foundation could support new business models and technologies across the fecal sludge value chain designed to enhance service for the poor.
Liberia Municipal Water Project (LMWP) (2011-2012): As a subcontractor to Tetra Tech ARD, DIG conducted a market survey for a USAID-funded water project in three secondary cities of Liberia. The overall objectives of LMWP were to assist local and national authorities in developing plans for water supply and sanitation improvements, implementing infrastructure enhancements, and re-establishing local capability to sustainably operate and maintain water supply in the three target cities. DIG contributed to LMWP by conducting a comprehensive socioeconomic market assessment in the project cities, which included designing and overseeing the survey and analyzing the results to inform the design of the water system. The market assessment included quantitative and qualitative components, which were used to determine household and commercial willingness and ability to pay for water services. DIG’s assessment was instrumental in shaping the water system strategy and the program’s overall success.
Market Assessment of Fecal Sludge Providers in Douala, Cameroon (2011): The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WSH) Program awarded DIG a contract to assess the fecal sludge value chain in Douala, Cameroon and identify areas for market improvement. DIG assessed the fecal sludge management market by examining the demand for services among the poor and their ability to pay, as well as the availability and quality of the services offered. In addition, DIG identified potential investment entry points for the foundation and proposed possible partners. To accomplish this work, DIG consulted over 40 sanitation sector stakeholders in Cameroon operating in government, the private sector, civil society, and informal settlements. DIG also conducted an extensive literature review to buttress its findings from the field, and delivered its synthesized conclusions and recommendations to the Gates Foundation’s WSH Program.
Economic and Agricultural Development Technical Assistance to Emkan (2009-2010):
DIG was contracted to provide technical support for economic development activities in the agricultural sector in peri-urban areas. DIG assisted in the development of a country-wide strategy for agricultural economic investment projects, small and medium enterprise (SME) development, and extension services for farmers and producers. Furthermore, DIG prepared comprehensive business and financial planning for initial investment projects including a wholesale market and cold-storage facility in northern Lebanon. DIG also led areas of a large-scale market demand assessment for the agricultural sector in Northern Lebanon focused on farmers and livestock producers.
Urbis: Urban Capacity Learning Laboratory (2007-2010):
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded DIG an USD 8.5 million contract to implement a three-year global learning initiative. Urbis strengthened the capacity of community organizations to increase their influence over the decision-making and planning processes that affect the lives of the urban poor. The focus of the Urbis program included slum improvement, provision of basic services (water and sanitation), land tenure regularization, and financing for the urban poor, with advocacy as a cross-cutting theme. The program’s learning agenda was designed to help practitioners in the field of urban poverty alleviation understand how to amplify the voice of the poor to improve poverty reduction strategies. DIG selected eight cities (Sao Paulo, Brazil; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Casablanca, Morocco; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; Luanda, Angola; Durban, South Africa; and Mombasa, Kenya), based on the needs of the poor and opportunities to reduce urban poverty. In Abidjan, for example, DIG worked with a pro-poor network to increase slum dweller access to potable water and influence over a water subsidy. In all of the cities, DIG developed and applied methodologies that supported the capacity and strategic growth of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) serving the urban poor. Capacity building efforts included training, technical assistance, study tours, publications, toolkits, and a community of practice website (
). The Urbis program partnered with organizations managed by slum dwellers, NGOs, MFIs, private firms and government agencies. These partners were all focused on successfully improving the lives of the urban poor and were just a step away from unlocking new opportunities for themselves and for the populations they serve.
By the end of the program, the Urbis team conducted
677 training events and provided 5,053 days of technical assistance to 19,847 individuals, enabling 547 organizations to grow and represent and/or serve the urban poor more effectively.