It’s not all about toilets: Debunking 7 myths about urban sanitation

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  • Doreen
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It’s not all about toilets: Debunking 7 myths about urban sanitation on World Water Day

Dear All,

Very interesting article regarding myths about urban sanitation in the water blog submitted by Martin Gambrill (World Bank)

blogs.worldbank.org/water/debunking-7-my...tion-world-water-day

Best regards,

Doreen
Doreen Mbalo

GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Programme
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Myths in Urban Sanitation

7 Myths about Urban Sanitation

In a recent blog, Martin Gambrill, Sophie Tremolet and others, have debunked 7 myths of urban sanitation ( blogs.worldbank.org/water/debunking-7-my...tion-world-water-day )

In response to Myth #1 (People don’t demand improvements in sanitation where it is deficient or absent), the authors says: What is sometimes true however is that low income residents often feel unable to affect change, especially when facing uninterested politicians, land tenure limitations, and technical challenges, and they are reluctant to openly express their demands.

People do demand improvements in sanitation; the problem is that the municipal departments, though it is their function, demand bribes from the residents, for doing the work. Since low-income residents cannot meet this unjustified demand, the sanitation work is not undertaken.

While the Myth #2 (Poor people are not willing to pay for sanitation services) may stand in some regions, the main problem in some areas is that people know that the quality of work will be poor, and the contractor will simply vanish after doing the sub-standard work. This makes people hesitant in paying for the sanitation services.

I don’t know, who coined Myth #5 (Centralized conventional sewers and wastewater treatment are the only way to solve the urban sanitation crisis), this is not quite correct. In fact, nowadays, there is tendency to go for de-centralized approach. The centralized approach has many problems, the main being the inability to use the treated wastewater.

The blog gives other myths. I, however, agree with the summary of the authors when they say: there is no silver bullet; no simple, single solution to urban sanitation challenges. We must develop locally relevant and innovative solutions along the sanitation service chain that put customers first and focus as much on service management as on technology. City planners and other sector decision makers should consider the tradeoffs along the service chain between, for example, providing basic access to a toilet to all versus providing sewers and advanced wastewater treatment to the few.

F H Mughal
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  • Doreen
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Re: Myths in Urban Sanitation

Dear Mughal,

Many thanks for this. For more Information about this, please also check out this Website on Citywide inclusive Sanitation (CWIS)

citywideinclusivesanitation.wordpress.co...an-sanitation-myths/

Thanks and best regards,

Doreen
Doreen Mbalo

GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Programme
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Myths in Urban Sanitation

Dear Doreen,

Thank you for your response. I'm, in fact, looking for some other myths in urban or rural sanitation.
Are you aware of any more myths in sanitation?

Regards,

F H Mughal
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Myths in Urban Sanitation

The Worldbank people have now also produced a video about this to make the article easier to grasp ("Debunking 7 myths about urban sanitation"):



As Barbara Evans pointed out on twitter today, they have had over 30,000 views of the video by now which is pretty good!

I think the video is of a perfect length (3:40 minutes); any longer and they would have lost me.

It would be interesting to know how widely held those beliefs ("myths") are - any survey results amongst local government politicians in several countries would be interesting.

My guess is that Number 5 is the one most commonly held by a lot of people who are from outside of the sector:
Myth #5: Centralized conventional sewers and wastewater treatment are the only way to solve the urban sanitation crisis

The other myths are more in detail and not something most lay persons would really think about.
(the question is: who would be the target audience of this video?)

Regards,
Elisabeth
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Myths in Urban Sanitation

It appears from the video that the 7 myths are applicable in African countries. I was unable to find any link to Asia.

F H Mughal
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Myths in Urban Sanitation

Dear Mughal,

I am wondering what you meant with "no link to Asia"? Do you mean because the footage used in the video is more from African countries?

Or would you argue that some of the 7 myths are not at all applicable to Asian countries? If yes, which ones in particular?

Regards,
Elisabeth
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Myths in Urban Sanitation

Dear Elisabeth,

Yes, your point in first para.
You are responding after 2.5 months - just wondering!

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F H Mughal
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Myths in Urban Sanitation

Better late than never. :-)

I sometimes browse around the forum and look for discussion threads or questions that are still "hanging in the air". I also like to "close the loop" on things, e.g. if people post about a survey then some weeks or months after the survey has finished, it is nice to hear something about the results. Or if they post about their research work for their MSc then a year or two later they should post their finalised thesis. Things like that. :-)
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Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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