Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability ( WASHPaLS )

Girls Practicing Handwashing in Afghanistan. Photo Credit: USAID / Afghan Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS)


Photo Credit: USAID/WASHPaLS



WASHPaLS results include:

  • Publish literature reviews related to community-led total sanitation (CLTS), market-based sanitation (MBS), and promoting hygienic environments for infants and young children to document the current state of knowledge and identify evidence gaps.
  • Operational research in at least seven countries to address key evidence gaps related to CLTS, MBS and hygienic environments for infants and young children.
  • Active dissemination of research results through peer-reviewed publications, presentations, webinars, national working groups, strategic partnerships and policy-specific knowledge products. 
  • Disbursement of 10 small grants to investigate and generate evidence to support innovative ideas in WASH behavior change programming. Documenting and sharing the results of the grantees work to encourage uptake and scale-up of the successfully approaches. 
  • Application of the learning generated by WASHPaLS by USAID missions, national governments and implementing partners.

Photo Credit: USAID/WASHPalS


The WASHPaLS implementation team includes complementary and internationally recognized expertise in WASH programming and research. Additionally, distinguished academics, practitioners, and policy makers from across the WASH sector regularly provide expert perspectives to the project through an internal research working group and an external WASHPaLS advisory board.


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TETRA TECH has over 30 years of successful WASH sector programming and thought leadership. Tetra Tech provides technical assistance in the areas of rural water supply, sustainability assessments, the sanitation value chain including fecal sludge management, and environmental compliance.

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AQUAYA INSTITUTE offers experienced scientists and field-based WASH researchers who bring an objective, nimble, and rigorous approach to implementation research. The Aquaya Institute provides technical assistance in the areas of CLTS, water quality, market-based approaches, research design, data collection, and program evaluation.

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FHI 360 brings three decades of experience in integrated WASH programming, implementation research, and behavior change approaches. FHI 360 provides technical assistance in the areas of WASH integration including WASH and nutrition, WASH in schools and healthcare facilities, monitoring and evaluation, hygiene, social and behavior change communication and comprehensive behavior-centered programming.

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FSG offers a formal business analytics perspective to understanding successes and challenges of market-based sanitation interventions. FSG provides technical assistance in the areas of market-based WASH services, market assessments, and inclusive market development.

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IRIS GROUP brings extensive experience in mixed methods research on women and WASH and gender-equitable approaches to rural and urban sanitation programming. The Iris Group provides technical assistance to the WASHPaLS knowledge management and learning strategy in the areas of gender mainstreaming, social inclusion, and women’s empowerment.

Gender - Making Soap in Liberia. Photo Credit: Alex Bobor Keimbe, Global Communities Liberia


USAID/WASHPaLS’ core mission focuses on generating knowledge through partnership with other projects, organizations, and individuals and actively promoting the dissemination and use of the evidence to influence policy and practice both within collaborating country contexts and globally. To this end, the Project organizes webinars, makes presentations and participates in side-events during high-profile WASH conferences, and produces a range of knowledge products including reports, briefs, research summaries, and other materials tailored to local target audiences.  

report cover thumbnail Assessing the Effects of COVID-19 on Access to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in USAID High Priority and Strategy-Aligned Countries - Synthesis Report

In May 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) tasked the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) project with assessing the effects of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (…
report thumbnail Implementation of a Targeted Toilet Subsidy Study in Ghana: Midline Report

The USAID-funded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (USAID/WASHPaLS) project partnered with the Government of Ghana-UNICEF sanitation program and two District Assemblies in the Northern region (Tatale and…
Brief thumbnail Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Health (W4H) Activity Performance Evaluation: Overview and Key Findings

The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Health (W4H) Activity is a five-year (2015–2020), US$19M cooperative agreement funded by USAID/Ghana and implemented by Global Communities (GC). The goal of W4H is to accelerate sustainable improvement in water…
brief thumbnail Brief: End-Term Performance Evaluation of the Kenya Resilient Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development (Kenya RAPID) Activity

The performance evaluation associated with this brief was commissioned by the USAID/Kenya and East Africa (USAID/KEA) mission in conjunction with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) at the end of Kenya Resilient Arid Lands…
Report title cover Global Assessment of Grant-Funded, Market-based Sanitation Development Projects
Technical Brief

WASHPaLS conducted a comprehensive review of WASH grant-funding since 1980 to identify household sanitation supply projects using an MBS approach, assessed project characteristics and outcomes (population impacted), and reviewed project strategies…

Photo Credit: USAID Afghanistan Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS) Project Team


Check out the blogs written by or about the WASHPaLS program.

Credit: Jesse Shapiro Gaming for Profit: Using a Game to Learn About Market-Based Sanitation

This blog originally appeared on Climatelinks. Climate change worsens familiar challenges to water and sanitation services, including limited access and poor infrastructure. Innovative approaches, such as games to inform sanitation enterprise…
A sanitation enterprise advertises its product in Bihar, India. Photo credit: FSG Webinar Explores Barriers to Effective Sanitation Enterprises

The provision of sustainable sanitation for all is one of the world’s most important development priorities, yet 4.5 billion people lack access to a safe toilet. Past efforts to provide greater sanitation access, such as direct government…
A barrier to scaling sanitation markets―for example an inadequate pool of entrepreneurs―can be overcome by engaging existing businesses such as this concrete product manufacturer in Cambodia. Photo credit: FSG Webinar Explores the Complexities of the Sanitation Marketplace

If you thought that sanitation marketing required only the connecting of customers, products, and financing to succeed, then you may wonder why it has proven so challenging to take this intervention to scale.  It turns out, “Not only is scaling…
Learning from Market-Based Sanitation at Scale Learning from Market-Based Sanitation at Scale

Working through the private sector is one of the most promising approaches to solve the global sanitation crisis. Yet globally, few market-based sanitation programs have reached significant scale. Indeed, a forthcoming report from USAID’s WASH…
Children who share their play and sleeping spaces with free-ranging poultry are exposed to high levels of contamination from animal excreta. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com Webinar Addresses Underemphasized Health Risks Children Face in Their Home Environments

For decades, implementers have applied water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and nutrition-based interventions—alone and in a variety of combinations—to address diarrheal disease and stunting among infants and young children (IYC) in low- and middle…

Photo Credit: WASHPaLS

Research Areas

Through extensive desk reviews, in-depth key informant interviews and field-based implementation research in up to seven countries, WASHPaLS works with implementing partners to broaden the evidence base on the use and effectiveness of sanitation interventions, including CLTS, MBS, and promoting safe hygiene environments for infants and young children.

CLTS: As guided by the findings of a comprehensive literature review and consultation with global thought-leaders, WASHPaLS implementation research related to CLTS, led by the Aquaya Institute, focuses on three themes: 1) understanding whether targeted subsidies can improve the outcomes of CLTS programs; 2) investigating the relative importance of factors associated with CLTS performance (i.e. identifying a performance envelope for CLTS); and 3) understanding the effect of using Information Communication Technology (ICT) to aid CLTS implementation.

MBS: Using a similar literature review and consultative process to identify key knowledge gaps, WASHPaLS MBS implementation research, led by FSG, focuses on two themes: 1) Viability: understanding the factors that impact viability of sanitation enterprises, the profile of entrepreneurs who are best suited to act as focal point of sales for the customers, and the types of enterprise capital that are required to improve viability; and 2) Market Rules: understanding the types of changes in market rules (e.g., legislation, government policy, regulation) that can potentially improve viability of sanitation enterprises or increase toilet sales.

Hygienic Environments: The WASHPaLS Hygienic Environments desk review identified two under-emphasized aspects of Wagner and Lagnoix’s seminal F-diagram that are worthy of increased attention: 1) domestic animal excreta as an important reservoir of disease-causing agents in immediate living environments, and 2) exposure of infants and young children (IYC) to pathogens via ingestion of dirt (geophagy) and/or human and animal excreta as well as through exploratory mouthing behaviors as a critical exposure pathway not disrupted by the traditional suite of WASH measures. Through multi-year research effort led by FHI 360 including aspects of product development, formative research, and experimental trial, WASHPaLS will attempt to understand whether a protective play space (playmat and play pen) significantly reduces exposure of IYC to harmful enteric pathogens.

Photo Credit: USAID Afghanistan Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS) Project Team


In addition to the three research streams noted above, WASHPaLS will investigate innovative ideas in WASH behavior change programming through the management of a small grants program. WASHPaLS will award at least 10 grants to investigate the effectiveness of existing and new innovative and evidence-based approaches to improve and sustain WASH-related behaviors. To date, WASHPaLS has issued three grants that focus on Habit Science and Gender Equity and Social Inclusion. They are:

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  • WASH-in Schools Hygiene Nudges in Ethiopia

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  • Expanding Women's Role in Nepal's Sanitation Value Chain

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  • mHealth Messaging: an Innovative Approach to Promote Improved Caregiver and Child Hygiene Practices in Bangladesh
  • Household Problem-Solving to Reduce Children’s Exposure to Chicken Feces

Contact Us

For more information on WASHPaLS, please contact the USAID Environmental Health Team Lead, Jesse Shapiro (jeshapiro@usaid.gov), or Project Director, Morris Israel (morris.israel@WASHPaLS.org).

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Photo Credit: USAID Afghanistan Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS) Project Team