Is there a future for shared sanitation?

  • SharedSaniMsc
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  • Rob Pickersgill
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Is there a future for shared sanitation?

Hello all,
As you may be aware, the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) have redefined the sanitation ladder in their 2017 "WASH in the 2030 agenda" report, which sets out the monitoring framework for the SDGs. Within this, "shared sanitation" is defined as being "limited" which is between "basic" and "unimproved". However, as with the MDGs, any form of shared sanitation does not contribute to the SDG target percentages of "population using safely managed sanitation services.
At the same time shared facilities are often used to provide sanitation, particularly for the extremely poor such as slum dwellers and the homeless. As we encounter increasing levels of urban growth, we may see an increase in the number of shared sanitation facilities being designed, and so the question remains, how might shared sanitation be best designed, implemented and operated.
As part of a MSc in Global Urban Development and Planning, I'm writing a dissertation on this, and while I'm able to gather information from leading academics and policy papers, I am also interested to see how experts and practitioners (such as yourselves) view the role of shared sanitation - and compare that to the approach JMP has taken on the topic. If you have a spare 15 minutes, I would really appreciate if you share your views on this topic on a short questionnaire I've developed, here: https://goo.gl/forms/v9bkYEYRopCk4q5k2 .
I will also be at the WEDC conference next week, encouraging you to do the same, feel free to chat to me then!
Many thanks,
Rob


Is there a future for shared sanitation?
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Is there a future for shared sanitation?

We discussed it here already a while ago:
forum.susana.org/182-sustainable-develop...and-mdg-implications

Krischan Makowka
Microbiologist & emergency WASH specialist
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Re: Is there a future for shared sanitation?

Thanks very much for drawing my attention to that thread, I hadn't seen it.
I wonder if the attitudes of the people posting in that original thread have shifted in the last couple of years - it seems to me that the JMP are more open than ever to the notion that some examples of shared sanitation could be beneficial; particularly in informal settlements (which is something that David Satterthwaite and Duncan Mara have argued for in papers published over the last year or so)


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Re: Is there a future for shared sanitation?

I don't think anyone denies that some types of shared sanitation can be beneficial. The discussion is rather if it should be counted as 'improved' sanitation. The problem I (and probably many practitioners) have with that is the implied consequence that after a household is categorized as having 'improved' sanitation that's usually the end of the story in regards to official government recognition that there is a sanitation issue.

So having a lot of very poor households with usually only temporary access to shared sanitation (how ever good it might be) thus fall out of (for example) the eligibility criteria for government subsidies to improve their sanitation situation is not a good thing.

Edit: if there is a recent movement on that, I suppose (cynically) that this is rather because people realize that the SDG target on sanitation will never be reached without the "trick" of counting some shared sanitation in it after all.

Krischan Makowka
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Re: Is there a future for shared sanitation?

Thanks for your response Kris, that's a really interesting perspective; that by keeping it "unimproved", it keeps the door open for further improvements. I wonder if there's a counter-argument whereby the "unimproved" status leads to shared sanitation not being considered in those situations where it is the best solution; e.g. to tackle OD in informal settlements / amongst the homeless.

Just to clarify, the aim of my research isn't to be an argument for why it should or should not be reclassified, although that discussion is of interest to me (if I was doing a PhD, maybe...). My dissertation is simply to investigate whether shared sanitation can be the best solution (it looks like most would say it can be in some contexts), and if so, how we might be able to assess i) what those contexts are and ii) how we might design and operate such facilities well (if you have a spare 15 mins, feel free to complete the quick questionnaire on the topic, link below ;) ).


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  • Doreen
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Re: Is there a future for shared sanitation?

Hi,

Have a look at this article:

blogs.worldbank.org/water/shared-toilets...dignity#comment-1524

Shared sanitation facilities are extremely vital in densly populated low income urban areas. Perhaps you can also look at the UBSUP programme in Kenya. They have constructed more than 7.900 household/plot level shared sanitation facilities and 7 decentralised treatment facilities in approximately 23 towns.

See here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/167-ma...t-fund-and-giz-kenya

As long as the toilets are constructed as per the technical designs, there is a strong focus on O&M, sanitation marketing, behaviour change, ensuring that one toilet is utilised by a specific number of people on the plot, then it will work!
To expect individual sanitation facilities in densly populated low income areas is not possible bearing in mind the sizes of the plots.

Best regards,

Doreen

Doreen Mbalo

Sustainable Sanitation Programme and Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) Secretariat
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Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
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