SuSanA provides space for discussions around Equity & Inclusion – which topics are important?

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SuSanA provides space for discussions around Equity & Inclusion – which topics are important?

Dear all,

we are very happy to announce that on the occasion of World Toilet Day 2019, the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance, in collaboration with WSSCC, is launching a dedicated space for discussion around „Equity and Inclusion“ in the SuSanA Discussion Forum. Within this space, SuSanA will provide dedicated room for discussion, impulses and more visibility of topics that fall under equity and inclusion in the sanitation sector and in WASH.

The format, content and vibrancy of this space, depends a lot on you, the SuSanA members. As SuSanA has proven to be a key catalyst and facilitator for collaboration in the sector, we would like to seek your feedback over the coming weeks on the questions below regarding the content and format.

1. Which sub-categories/topics do you see within Equity and Inclusion?
2. What sub-categories from other Forum categories should be shifted to Equity and Inclusion?
3. Who are the main organisations active in this field?
4. What discussions around Equity and Inclusion should SuSanA bring to the daylight that are not addressed in the sector yet?
5. Do you think we should even set up an 8th main category for the topic?
6. Which key documents should we recommend to the readers? (for comparison: this is how the post about key documents on handwashing looks like)

Best regards,
Franziska (on behalf of the SuSanA Secretariat), together with WSSCC

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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  • FranziskaVolk
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Re: Reply: SuSanA provides space for discussions around Equity & Inclusion – which topics are important?

Hi all,

I like the idea that the new section could make the “Human side of sanitation” more prominent (the technical sanitation systems category is really packed with over 1,800 topics, whereas non-technical aspects are available, but are much fewer discussed).

One topic that we already do see in this space, and where a number of activities happen right now, is the topic of sanitation workers.

On Thursday, 21 November, Sida, SEI, SLU, WaterAid, SIWI, Univ of KwaZulu Natal, Water for People and SuSanA held a Webinar on Sanitation and Employment. Sanitation workers provide an essential public service, but all too often it comes at the cost of their health, safety and dignity. Among others, the newly launched report on the “Health, Safety, and Dignity of Sanitation Workers” was presented, and can be found in the SuSanA library and on the WASH Matter Blog.

Last year on WTD, SuSanA launched the photoessays on sanitation work in urban India “ Where there are no sewers ”. The next volume is currently being developed in Lusaka, Zambia with photographs by Lior Sperandeo .

The preface of the publication by Susanne Dorasil, German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), reads:

Millions of sanitation workers who clean sewers, open drains, septic tanks, community and school toilets, railway cleaners, as well as pit emptiers, and the severe conditions they face, need our specific attention. Often, sanitation workers are poorly paid, lack safety training, and do not wear protective gear. As a result, workers are demanding a better work environment. While sanitation along the whole service chain is a precondition for dignity for all, there is also a gender dimension in this topic that needs special attention.

In addition, SuSanA, jointly with BORDA, GIZ and FSMA are organizing “ Pit Emptying Skills challenges " with the aim to inspire professionals to demonstrate their skills and show the limitations and requirements of their daily work life to sector stakeholders. The challenges started at FSM4 and FSM5, a regional challenge took place at ZAWAFE Zambia, and the next one is planned for 20th AfWA Congress in February 2020 in Kampala, Uganda

On the occasion of WTD 2019, UN-Water also opened a photo exhibition on “Sanitation workers: light at the end of the tunnel”

Best regards,

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA)
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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Re: Reply: SuSanA provides space for discussions around Equity & Inclusion – which topics are important?

Thanks for kicking off this discussion, Franziska. It would be an interesting and big change to either add a new forum category or to rename and rearrange an existing one. Some people have complained in the past that we have "too many categories", so I am mindful of that. We have seven main categories so far, and many sub-categories. Two of our main categories are segments of the sanitation chain, i.e.:
- The blue one ("sanitation systems"), and
- The green one ("resource recovery")

I hesitate to propose a whole new category that would be called Equity and Inclusion. Rather I would probably include it into one of the existing categories and possibly rename that one.

I wonder if it would fit inside of the orange ("attitudes and behaviours") or the grey category ("markets, finance and governance") - with or without changing the name of the particular category.

In terms of existing sub-categories we have some where these topics are already discussed (and which could possibly be moved to a different category) such as:
- Inclusion and disability (in the red category)
- Other non-household settings (e.g. hospitals, health centres, prisons, train stations, offices, work places) (also in the red category)
- Advocacy and civil society engagement (in the orange category)

Here is another consideration: Let's say we want to discuss more about social inclusion in financing schemes (e.g. do subsidies go more towards the middle class segment of society than the poor), then shouldn't we do that in our existing sub-category on financing (like we have it here with the discussion by SNV: - "SNV egroup discussion Topic 2: Can public funding (taxes and transfers) in sanitation contribute to greater equity?") or is it wiser to do it within a new "Equity category" which would then have a sub-category on finance & inclusion/equity?

The same applies to gender aspects: Should gender-related topics be discussed inside all of the existing sub-categories or have their own sub-category (and then inside that sub-category repeat the various thematic areas like awareness raising, advocay, capacity building etc.).

I am almost thinking: if it's an overarching theme then it does not need its own category but needs to be well integrated into all the others, somehow?


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  • KatherineP
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Re: SuSanA provides space for discussions around Equity & Inclusion – which topics are important?

Hi all,

Thanks for initiating this discussion.

There are existing materials on the topics of inclusion and equity (disability, gender, MHM) for the school setting which can provide valuable learning for other settings.

Public schools are open to all and provide a unique basis for the topic of equity. Schools provide a levelling opportunity for children to benefit equally from interventions regardless of their background. Children which are missed by WASH interventions at community or household level will still benefit in the school setting.

Schools also contribute to establishing norms and can provide a neutral space to address taboos. As values of inclusion are established in schools, these norms can then spillover into communities.

It would be great to link this topic to the existing sub-category on inclusion and disability within the health, hygiene and schools category. Or alternatively, it would be great to have a sub-category on WASH in Schools within this larger inclusion category.

Best regards,
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  • BrianReed
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Re: SuSanA provides space for discussions around Equity & Inclusion – which topics are important?

Dear All

This is an on-going debate (well at least 20 years old) and there is not an easy answer. If you want to have impact, then E&I should be mainstreamed - included in every topic as appropriate. Meeting the needs of women or people with disabilities should not be seen as a specialist subject but as core to providing standard sanitation services. Portioning these issues off can make them appear “extra” rather than normal practice.

However, this can make certain issues less prominent as it is drowned out in the general debate. Specific needs do not get championed and those with the weakest voice get lost. Thus the need for specific attention being given. At least E&I is getting more inclusive - years ago every subsection would have separate debates (women, elderly etc.) and lose the common elements that benefit all.

One approach I used a few years ago when timetabling the WEDC conference was to mainstream “gender” (which was the only E&I topic at the time), by putting papers on “gender and sanitation” in with the sanitation theme and “women and water” under water supply. This meant everybody was exposed to the messages rather than just an interested core. However, I knew there were participants who were very interested in gender, so I flagged relevant papers in the timetable (with a “G” I think) so they could switch between sessions and follow a different path. In the final plenary session there was a specific report from this perspective to pull learning together.

Reviewing the current seven threads, you can see how they have evolved over time. Knowledgepoint uses “tags” so you can tag your post with several keywords rather than taking a linear path. If you were to revise the threads, shouldn’t you stand back and see if there are other patterns that could be used? Where is emergency sanitation? Where are other forms of environmental sanitation? The technical topics (systems and reuse) have responded to interest at the time, but they are not incompatible.


On a different point “what topics are important?” Can again be seen through an historical lens. It was women, then gender, mainly related to water supply, then disability became a topic, followed by MHM, GBV and now LGBT+ and incontinence. BabyWASH seems slower to gather momentum but the perimenopause has had some work done.

For more about this see “Mainstreaming gender in the WASH sector: dilution or distillation?”

You cannot really identify in advance what topics will become important, mainly because by their very nature these issues have not been talked about in the past. There are some areas that do seem neglected - such as some disabilities (people using a wheelchair are more obvious than a blind or deaf person and their physical requirements are more obvious for example).

As I said at the beginning, there is no easy answer - but at least I hope this perspective has opened up some more questions!

Brian Reed
BSc (Hons)(Dunelm), PGDip (Lond), MSc (N’cle), CEng, CEnv, C.WEM, MICE, MCIWEM, FHEA
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  • CompostEra
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Re: SuSanA provides space for discussions around Equity & Inclusion – which topics are important?

Hi Elisabeth,

Equity is very difficult to define some are happy with less some will always want more … same with inclusion, some wants to be included others are introverts and want to be left alone. As with all value discussions, you can’t define what is best what beauty is kindness is BUT ALMOST everyone HAS A PREFERENCE FOR SOME KIND OF KINDNESS OVER CRUELTY. This I feel is the basis for all value discussions … we are pretty clear over what preference we have for feeling ! Trump and Pelosi would never agree what wealth is but they would easily agree what the preference is regarding wealth over adjunct poverty. This is where we need to start when we want to define morality … what is right and wrong, what is good and bad.

All the best intentions

Enclosed Long-Term Composting Toilets and Greywater treatment ( )
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