Quality Check: How can we ensure sanitation achieves health and quality of life outcomes in low-income areas?

Date: December 8, 2020
Client: WSUP 
Donor: DFID
Regions: Eastern Africa, Western Africa, Southern Africa, Southern Asia, 
Countries:  Kenya, Ghana, Bangladesh, Mozambique, 

Can shared toilet facilities provide quality sanitation? What criteria do planners need to think about when seeking quality sanitation? Yes, sanitation is known to have positive health outcomes, but what specific systems provide the most health benefits, especially in low-income areas? In 2017-2020, WSUP commissioned a number of research projects in Ghana, Bangladesh and Kenya to answer some of these questions. Very concrete recommendations to policy-makers have come out, including:

  1. Shared sanitation is not only a reality in many low-income areas, but it can also be provide quality sanitation under certain conditions
  2. Sanitation systems on their own do not provide the expected health benefits; there must be associated systems and services to either treat the sludge onsite or safely transport and treat waste offsite. Achieving health benefits require a whole systematic approach to sanitation
  3. Often overlooked by planners, users perspective - their feelings privacy, dignity - can and should be used when comparing different options of sanitation systems

This discussion paper explores how high-quality sanitation can be achieved in low-income urban areas in developing contexts. It is based on findings from four research projects conducted under, or in association with, WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative 2016–2020 (USRI), funded by DFID.

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