New research from SEI on the sustainability of ecological sanitation interventions in Burkina Faso

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  • I'm a research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute and a geographer interested in environment health linkages, including how water and sanitation fit within the greater sustainable development agenda.
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New research from SEI on the sustainability of ecological sanitation interventions in Burkina Faso

hi everyone,
Two new papers were published by SEI researchers and collaborators that look at different aspects of sustainability of ecological sanitation in Burkina Faso. The first reports on a household survey of previously implemented ecosan systems, looking at what factors led to sustained use in rural settings. The second is a case study on the role of social capital and collective action in sustained use of these systems. Abstracts are included below, as well as the associated files and a short synthesis in French. Please contact me for any questions or comments!
Best regards,

Understanding sustained use of ecological sanitation in rural Burkina Faso
Access to safe sanitation services is fundamental for healthy and productive lives, but in rural Burkina Faso only
around 7% of the population uses improved sanitation. Ecological sanitation (ecosan) systems that allowsafe agricultural
reuse of nutrients in human waste have been promoted in these areas, as a way to meet sanitation
needs while contributing to food security. However, little is known about the success of these interventions in
terms of both sustained use of the toilet and safe excreta reuse practices. We assessed the use of ecosan systems
in 44 rural communities where such interventions had taken place. Structured interviews and observations conducted
at 520 randomly selected concessions (residential properties), suggested a large-scale shift fromopen defecation
to ecosan toilet use. However, only 58% of surveyed concessions reported ever emptying the ecosan toilet
vault, which is required for optimal long-term functioning. Concessions that received ecosan training
programmes with a greater emphasis on agricultural reuse were more strongly associated with toilet use and
emptying than those thatwhose training focusedmore on sanitation access and health benefits. The findings suggest
that the safe agricultural reuse of nutrients can provide a strong motivation for long-term adoption of improved
sanitation among rural smallholders.

Sanitation and the commons: The role of collective action in sanitation use
A lack of safe sanitation threatens human wellbeing and has overlooked implications for environmental sustainability.
There is a growing need to understand community-level drivers of sanitation use, as poor sanitation
in a few households can create risks for neighboring households and contaminate the surrounding environment.
This paper considers sanitation in the context of common-pool resources, focusing on processes of collective
action and sustainable sanitation use, and draws on a case study conducted in Koassanga, Plateau-Central,
Burkina Faso, where an ecological sanitation system intervention was implemented. Using a qualitative study
design, 26 semi-structured interviews were conducted with residents using a social capital framework for water,
sanitation and hygiene. Data were thematically analyzed to understand how collective action played a role in
sustaining use of the sanitation system. The case study findings indicated that social capital characterized by
membership in local groups and associations may have contributed to successful implementation of the intervention
and ending open defecation, through normalization and monitoring of the use of ecological sanitation
systems. In addition, community leaders played prominent roles in ensuring that collective management of the
sanitation systems was sustained. These findings highlight potential for further examination of sanitation systems
from a common pool resources perspective to identify other factors that contribute to long-term sustainability.
With growing interest in community-led sanitation approaches, this understanding can inform more
effective strategies for governments and NGOs to promote the health of entire communities to achieve SDG
targets for universal coverage.

Dr. Sarah Dickin,
Research Fellow
Stockholm Environment Institute
Stockholm, Sweden
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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