× This area is for The Sanitation Ladder: Next Steps discussion, part of the Thematic Discussion Series (TDS). More information on the organisation of this discussion can be found here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/185-th...on-ladder-next-steps Previous threads relevant to the topic of the Sanitation Ladder have been moved to this category. All new threads for the thematic discussion will say "TDS" before the topic name.

TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

41.1k views

Page selection:
  • Sowmya
  • Sowmya's Avatar
  • Posts: 73
  • Karma: 23
  • Likes received: 52

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Abstract: There is fairly majority consensus that the functional ladder could be the basis for developing indicators for JMP monitoring. What other factors need to be considered for finalizing functional ladder-based indicators?

(Please note: I have abbreviated the term ‘sanitation ladder’ to ‘SL’ for brevity.)

For the MDGs, the JMP monitored and reported on the progress of sanitation access based on population-based data gathered through large household surveys and national censuses. A set of core questions were developed to be included in household surveys and these questions were based on the technology-focused sanitation ladder (‘SL’).

With the functional ladder being considered as a possible basis for developing indicators for JMP monitoring, the following additional factors could be considered:

a) Source of data: While the tech SL requires information only from population-based surveys and national censuses, the functional SL will require information from other sources as well (indicators in rungs 4-7 require data that cannot be collected from population-based surveys). The JMP is already considering administrative, population and environmental data to estimate safe disposal/transport of excreta when no country data is available. However, these data sources may not be adequate (or databases need to be augmented) to collect data based on the functional SL.

b) Cost of data collection: A discussion regarding JMP indicators needs to necessarily include the cost of data collection. A research paper has estimated the cost of data collection for the 169 SDG targets at $254 billion for 2015-2030, which is almost two times the total annual ODA spent globally, and opined a <1 cost-benefit ratio ( please see URL ). The paper also points to additional challenges, such as, capacity constraints, buy-in from various stakeholders and the ethics of spending a significant portion of the aid budget on measurement.

c) Collecting data through large surveys: Large surveys can handle only structured questions. Therefore, a limited number of categories in the tech SL made it easier to perform disaggregated analysis of sanitation trends and map movement across values even if they are limited to what can be inferred on the basis of the sanitation category.

d) Uses of collection data on toilet type: The tech SL means that it is possible to track how many toilets of each type were built. This is relevant because:
(i) the cost of each type of toilets can vary significantly and without collecting data on which type of toilet was built, it might be difficult to verify the amount stated as spent on building sanitation infrastructure,
(ii) the life span of different technologies can vary significantly and so, we need data on which technology was built and when to forecast when the next round of sanitation financing, if required, will come up,
(iii) while JMP presents information in the aggregate, given that data is collected at the disaggregated level, it is also possible to track the effectiveness of new technologies – but possible only if data on type of toilet is collected, and
(iv) information on toilet type is required to perform disaggregated analysis of sanitation trends and map movement across different dimensions of sanitation (user experience, health, impact on water and agriculture).

Summary: A functional sanitation ladder is more effective and can help overcome the challenges of the technology-focused sanitation ladder, both in terms of dimensions to be covered to ensure realization of benefits of sanitation (instead of focusing on the statistics of the SDG targets) and enable easing of the current regulatory framework that present significant challenges to development and upscaling of new sanitation technologies. However, a functional sanitation ladder also means collecting more information than was done with the technology-focused sanitation ladder. With concerns raised about the costs and cost-effectiveness of data collection for the 169 SDG targets, the data needs of the monitoring indicators based on the functional sanitation ladder could be considered.

In a subsequent post, I would like to write more regarding the costs of data collection and some suggestions.

Warm regards,

Sowmya
Sowmya Rajasekaran
Director
Verity SmartLife Solutions
www.veritysmartlife.com

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • elkv
  • elkv's Avatar
  • I have been working with sanitation, in different ways and through different vehicles both in Sweden where I am from as well as internationally, since 1994 when I finished my MSc degree in Environmental Engineering. Currently I am working as a consultant
  • Posts: 12
  • Karma: 8
  • Likes received: 5

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Dear All,
I agree with Patrick on the difference between the functional ladder and the diagram from Florian is more one of presentation than true content differences. I also agree with Patrick that I do like the diagram as a way of presentation, with its limitations. One thing maybe to think of is to include greywater for each picture so that there is more of a systems thinking put across? Another is maybe to also show what may be the future, with higher costs and definitely much higher protection of both health and the environment: separate blackwater collection in triplicate sewer systems and separate treatment of blackwater, where the blackwater is completely kept out of the recipient and hence protecting both health and environment to a much higher degree than any conventional system, which, to be honest, do have trouble in Western Europe, to keep up with eutrophication, pharmaceuticals and recycling challenges. This is already implemented on small scale in Sneek, the Netherlands, and will be the case in Hamburg in Jenfelder Au, and also for a new development in Helsingborg, Sweden. For those around the corner of Southern Sweden, a seminar on these kinds of systems will be organized by IWA Sweden on April 22 in Helsingborg. In English. :)

But mostly of all, Florian, since you have used your diagrams in Moldova in planning situations, what was your experience? What worked and what did not work?

Please, find also enclosed the document I should have attached in yesterday's post.

Kind regards

Elisabeth
Elisabeth Kvarnström

This message has an attachment file.
Please log in or register to see it.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • bracken
  • bracken's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Working throughout Africa since 1996 in development cooperation. Involved with sustainable sanitation systems since 2002. Currently working for the AHT GROUP AG (a private consultancy office in Germany).
  • Posts: 47
  • Karma: 14
  • Likes received: 33

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Dear all,
I've been following the discussion over the last day or so and trying to take a step back from the individual details. There is general agreement that there is a need to broaden the horizon of how sanitation has been monitored to date and that the function and sustainability of the system is key, and a move away from the technocentric ladder for monitoring is needed. The results of the JMP expert consultation also recognise this.
I think there is no substantial contradiction or disagreement between any of the posts.

Maybe just to recap exactly what is in the drafted ladder revamp as there does seem to be a little confusion.
Firstly, the revamp was intended as a contribution towards monitoring, and moving sanitation monitoring away from a technocentric approach, and not to be used in the sense of the original sanitation ladders. As Elisabeth said, the ladder was deliberately chosen as the metaphor of choice because a monitoring ladder is still a broadly accepted concept, and we hoped and still hope to have an impact on the existing monitoring system. I don't think the scorecard approach would enable us to do this.
Secondly, the prerequisite for a sanitation system to be placed on a particular step is that the requirements for all preceding steps are met. So a dirty pit toilet does not fulfil rung 1 of the "revamped function based ladder", and thus cannot even be considered for rung 5. In this sense the rungs of the revamped ladder are like filters and only allow those system through that satisfy the requirement of the previous rungs. The rungs thus represent a degree of priority setting. The primary priorities are 1) Containing excreta and 2) Assuring privacy, access and acceptability and so on as we move up the ladder.
That should help illustrate my third point too. Although at the side we see just the health functions and the environmental functions, step 2 is clearly an attempt to include issues of convenience and comfort, and implicitly also issues of equity. So I actually don't really see a major conceptual or content difference between the proposed functional ladder and the different "dimensions of service level" in the diagramme from Florian, and consider it more generally as a question of presentation.

In fact both these examples refer in similar terms to the five categories of sustainability criteria originally proposed in 2004 in the paper attached here. (This paper seems to have served as the uncredited basis for the definition of a sustainable sanitation system and the criteria for this system that SuSanA adopted.)

I like the attempt at plotting different sanitation systems between the axes of the dimensions of service levels (although I guess its much easier to plot particular toilet technologies and not the entire system), and I feel that there is a chance to operationalize the use of functional sustainability criteria for sanitation monitoring somewhere in there - I just can't see how right now. One difficulty is, as you rightly mention Florian, the functions (or "categories of functions" or "dimensions of service levels") are not linked to each other.
Water and Sanitation Specialist
AHT GROUP AG
Management & Engineering
D-45128 Essen, Huyssenallee 66-68
Germany

This message has an attachment file.
Please log in or register to see it.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • elkv
  • elkv's Avatar
  • I have been working with sanitation, in different ways and through different vehicles both in Sweden where I am from as well as internationally, since 1994 when I finished my MSc degree in Environmental Engineering. Currently I am working as a consultant
  • Posts: 12
  • Karma: 8
  • Likes received: 5

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Hi all,
thanks for all valuable contributions.

For your information WSSCC is organizing a webinar on the SDGs next Tuesday

WEBINAR - Tuesday 17 February. 9 - 10:30 am EST/New York : 14:00 - 15:30 GMT/London: 15:00 - 16:30 Geneva, with the below proposed agenda from WSSCC:

- An update on the post-2015 debate, including the intergovernmental negotiations, work of the UN Statistical Commission and discussions on Financing for Development - Cecilia Scharp, UNICEF
- WASH sector recommendations for indicators to measure progress (as submitted to the UN Statistical Commission) - Tom Slaymaker WHO / UNICEF JMP. (Background document attached
- Questions and discussion

I am not able to copy the dial-in link here for some reason, anyone who is interested can send me a message and I can forward the link. Amanda Marlin at WSSCC is moderating the session and would love to get questions sent to her on beforehand.

Kind regards

Elisabeth
Elisabeth Kvarnström

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • JKMakowka
  • JKMakowka's Avatar
  • Just call me Kris :)
  • Posts: 1044
  • Karma: 35
  • Likes received: 359

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Could you upload the Aquasan framework to the forum? I am getting a permission error when I try to download it via the link you provided.

Generally speaking we need to evaluate carefully if a new tool is really needed, and if not an existing one does already what we have in mind. I currently think that a relatively simple tool for municipalities to assess the sustainability of their infrastructure with a focus on system wide functionality is not really available yet (but san21 goes in that direction if I remember correctly)... I guess more literature review is needed ;)

@Dorotee: would your work in Nepal allow to pilot such a simple score card? What is the timeframe you have?

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • dorothee.spuhler
  • dorothee.spuhler's Avatar
  • Moderator
  • Developing methods and tools to support strategic planning for sustainable sanitation. Particular interested in novel technologies contributing to more inclusive and circular sanitation. Co-Lead of WG1
  • Posts: 310
  • Karma: 14
  • Likes received: 122

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Dear all

Thank you for all your inspiring and enlightening contributions.

This discussion is very relevant to move beyond simple toilet construction towards more sustainable sanitation frameworks that fulfil service expectations and last.
The indicators that are going to help to measure the SDGs will have several important functions:
- They will help policy makers and donor agencies to measure where one stands
- And second, but not less important, they should guide national and local governmental people and practitioners to guide their strategies for sanitation planning
- And third, but still as important, they will guide engineers in defining the criteria for developing sanitation products and designing sustainable sanitation systems

As nicely illustrated by the posts of JKM and Florian: on one hand we have a more top-down approach providing global goals and targets to achieve (somehow) and there is the more bottom-up approach measuring what service level can be achieved int he field and then trying to translate this into something that indicates for global goals.

In both cases I definitively agree that functionality is the way to go.
I also believe that from the sustainable sanitation alliance, we somehow agreed once, on the overall goal a sustainable sanitation system should fulfil: "The main objective of a sanitation system is to protect and promote human health by providing a clean environment and breaking the cycle of disease. In order to be sustainable a sanitation system has to be not only economically viable, socially acceptable, and technically and institutionally appropriate, it should also protect the environment and the natural resources." (see also: www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/267)

I am currently working on how we (as engineers) could possible shape the design procedures for sanitation systems according to required service functions to achieve these sustainability criteria. This means that classical engineering design criteria (like pathogen reduction or nutrient balances) may are not sufficient anymore. We did actually not learn at school, how to do engineering design based on all the five sustainability criteria and we need to gain some more experience on that.

What I am not sure is., if the "ladder" is the right way to go. Indeed there is the advantage of simplicity and the aspirational effect of "moving up" the ladder (after all we are all humans…). But it fades out local priorities and stakeholder preferences which may get complicated to elicit (see the post of Richard regarding value functions and aggregation of multiple indicators into one index).

I like the idea of score card (we may get inspiration here from the TAF: www.washtechnologies.net/en/taf/taf-selection-tool/details/560 or the Aguasan sustainability assessment framework: www.aguaconsult.co.uk/assets/Uploads/Pub...bilitytools-2014.pdf, page 18) - but there are other ways how to communicate and convey multi-criteria performance assessments.

I am actually currently working exactly on such issues with my PhD at Eawag:
- How can we from a engineering perspective design appropriate sanitation system alternatives based on (and considering all different types of options including on-site, conventional and new innovations for RRR)?
- And what kind of performance indicators are we able to provide to inform policy makers on their potential performance in a sustainability perspective?
(So if you are interested, drop me a line ;-) )

After having spent quite some time thinking on the methodological approach for that I am now trying to apply my framework to a city sanitation planning project in Nepal working with local organisations (our old friends from ENPHO) and municipality and community level actors.
The various sustainability goals and indicator frameworks that have been published during the past years are useful guide local decision-makers in CSP, CLUES or Sanitation 21 frameworks - and so could be a global "functional sanitation service performance scorecard" framework.
This is for me the interesting part: how to integrate this into decision-making and sanitation designs frameworks where people implement decisions that might have been made. To provide something useful would really help to influence the sectors and become more effective with sanitation interventions.

If someone has thought on that: I would also like to see an input on how to link our ideas with a more global indicator or index for the planned SDG where other aspect related to Goal 6 and water management come in. My guess is that at this level, there is no way around indexing if we stick to the functionality framework…

Cheers
Dorothee
WG1 Co-lead
Developing methods and tools to support strategic planning for sustainable sanitation. Particular interested in novel technologies contributing to more inclusive and circular sanitation. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • JKMakowka
  • JKMakowka's Avatar
  • Just call me Kris :)
  • Posts: 1044
  • Karma: 35
  • Likes received: 359

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Thanks for outlining these main functional categories in detail. I would personally not include "human right" as a separate category as the main practical dimensions of it are included in dignity and public health, while the larger policy objective of an equitable service is rather on another political level.

To take up these functional dimensions into the score card / "sanitation index" idea, I would use them to bundle a number of sub-dimensions (like pathogen containment) to form parts of the final index.

What I am still struggling with a bit is how to account for a more integrated approach. Right now these functional categories are rather sanitation specific, and only brush on related or rather enabling factors like water supply, solid waste management etc.
Would be great to hear some ideas on that.

Last but not least @Florian: Your post mentioned various conflicting interests of the stakeholders involved and that a rebooted sanitation ladder might help. I would be interested to hear your thoughts in more detail how this could be practically done and at what level you see the most utility of such a tool.
Personally I would like to see it used as an way to strengthen sovereignity of local governments (municipality level) too, but how that could practically achieved against EU interests etc. is hard to say.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • Florian
  • Florian's Avatar
  • Water and Sanitation Specialist at Skat Consulting Ltd.
  • Posts: 269
  • Karma: 22
  • Likes received: 131

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

It has been mentioned, one problem with the ladders is the linearity, while the reality often is not linear and the different functions are not necessarily linked.

Just an example: A dirty pit toilet does not even fulfil rung 1 of the "revamped function based ladder", but actually does well for rung 5 (no contribution to eutrophication at all).

These are some of the reasons why we tried to look at the different functions of sanitation independently, treat them more as different dimensions of the same thing rather than steps of a long ladder.



Protection of health
This is the classical function of sanitation from a public perspective: the public health perspective. The aim is to break the transmission pathways of waterborne diseases. This requires both the direct containment (separation of faecal matter and people) in the households and on the plots, as well as in the wider public area.

Protection of the environment
This is about ecosystems, protecting rivers, lakes and oceans from pollution with organic load, nutrients, and as the newcomer: pharmaceutical residues (micro pollutants). This is also a public perspective, environmental protection.

Comfort and status
I think that also dignity falls in this dimension, so I'd rather call it now: Dignity, comfort and status. This is the private perspective, the perspective of the toilet users (unlike the previous two, which are both from a public perspective). This is what people want from sanitation.

Human rights
This is a bit tricky, I am not sure if it really helps to consider this as a separate dimension
From the human rights perspective, it is about defining a minimum level for the health function and the dignity/comfort function, and the focus is then on universality. It matters that as many as possible reach this minimum level.

Ok, so these are the main functions of sanitation, or the function of sanitation from different perspectives. For each of these functions, of course there can be different service levels, or different steps on a ladder.

I'm not yet sure if this could be developed further into a general scheme to define objectives and monitor progress towards them.

However, I feel that this structure of looking at the different functions of sanitation can be very helpful in defining objectives, priorities and directing resources. In particular it helps to understand a key point, which is that progress regarding one function does not necessarily mean progress in another, as is commonly assumed.

I know that the 3-4 functions instead of one (current JMP ladder) or two (proposed revamped ladder) sounds complex. But I think that as soon as one looks at a country context, it becomes simpler. If all existing types of sanitation systems in a country are listed, plus some that can be potentially introduced, it is usually not that many. These sanitation systems can then be ranked for the different dimensions. I tried to arrange the Moldovan options on a 2-dimensional system, with the public perspective on one scale (health and environmental protection together, which is not always correct, as I said myself above) and the private perspective (comfort and status) on the other.



The different currently existing options of sanitation systems in Moldovan villages shown in the graphic are:
- Pit toilets, improved according to JMP (green)
- Pit toilets, unimproved according to JMP (red)
- Flush toilets with individual but inadequate (e.g. no sludge management) wastewater disposal
- Flush toilets to sewers with inadequate treatment

The other options, which could potentially be introduced, are:
- UDDT toilets
- Flush toilets with individual wastewater treatment and sludge management
- Flush toilets to sewers and wastewater treatment plants


As I said, this is certainly far from perfect, it is merely a vague attempt.

But I feel something like this could be a pragmatic way to go:
- Build a general frameework for clear analyis of the different functions of sanitation and the principle levels of service for each function
- With the help of this framework, rank santation systems present in a country according to the different dimensions, thus define service levels for the different functions
- Define country objectives: which service level should be achieved for each function

I think the key is to make definition of objectives and monitoring country specific. Obviously this makes global monitoring difficult or impossible. But it might be a price worthwhile to pay for actually appropriate objectives and monitoring in the countries

The following user(s) like this post: dorothee.spuhler

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • Florian
  • Florian's Avatar
  • Water and Sanitation Specialist at Skat Consulting Ltd.
  • Posts: 269
  • Karma: 22
  • Likes received: 131

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Hi All!

Thanks a lot for that initiative, I've been looking forward to this discussion. I'm a bit late to join (too much work) but I try to catch up. I also hope you manage to get more people onto the discussion, perhaps also people not yet registered to the forum, to have a lively discussion.

Rather than commenting on the other very interesting contributions, I'd like to expand a bit on some of the ideas I developed a while when pondering about sanitation in Moldova, particularly as Patrick mentionned this in his starting post.

We run a Swiss funded water and sanitation project in Moldova. Moldova is interesting, as in many aspects it is a bit particlar:
- The situation in rural areas is comparable to many developing countries (pit latrines in poor shape is the standard sanitation type, sewers are few and wastewater treatment inexisitant).
- Government people still think along Soviet lines: sewers or nothing.
- Part of the donor community thinks along the classical development perspective, which means MDGs and JMP sanitation ladder
- However, the bigger (in terms of funds) part of the donors is EU driven, the logic is clearly along the lines of EU enlargement or EU association, which for sanitation means a exclusive focus on environmental protection via wastewater treatment.
(this description is of course a little simplifying)

In this context, we as implementer of a project, are always wondering: what is actually our goal for sanitation in these villages? The answer from government and donor strategies is diffuse (see above). So we tried to look at the issue a bit more sistematically, with the hope to come to a more clear way of defining the objective of sanitation, of minimum standards or service levels that we (and the local governments) should aim at. So I think this is very much what this discussion on sanitation ladders is about, just starting from a specfic example rather than from the global perspective.

Ok, that was the introduction ;)

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • ricardgine
  • ricardgine's Avatar
  • Researcher at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: 6
  • Likes received: 3

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Good morning,

I have enjoyed reading all your posts … I am very sorry for my slow reaction!

Let me share with you few comments in relation to the previous debates:

A. As regards the likely utility of a ladder to assess the SDGs, I believe that Elisabeth has nicely described the two different approaches that are currently in place. On the one hand, the Open Working Group of the SDGs has proposed various targets related to Goal 6. “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. In parallel, the JMP has been working on the definition of post-2015 WASH targets and indicators, to particularly cover the two first targets defined by the OWG. The final proposal of the JMP is now available at their website (and previously attached by Elisabeth), where you can also find the interesting reports elaborated by all different working groups consulted during this process (www.wssinfo.org/).

It is worth mentioning that, as Joe pointed out, the negotiations in 2015 in relation to the SDGs will be based on the OWG recommendations, but inputs from other parallel processes will be also considered. Surely, the proposal elaborated by the JMP will be a relevant input for the specific definition of WASH-related targets.

In any case, I would suggest postponing the discussion related to the post-2015 agenda and the SDGs for the second week of this forum, and keep the focus during this first week on the potential evolution of the ladder …

B. My feeling in relation to the ladder is that it may be a powerful tool for monitoring sanitation status and therefore for decision-making support. However, I completely agree with JMK that we need to define very clearly the final users of such tool. In this regard the technology-based ladder has, in my opinion, one clear advantage: it is simple and it can be easily applied everywhere. It has numerous disadvantages, but we need to be aware of the fact that the transition from technology to service level-based approaches will require more information to assess the facility, and this information may be not easily accessible. This mayhinder the use of the tool for decision-making purposes. Another "worry" related to the function-based sanitation ladder is that for decision-making purposes, the interest will probably be on the two lowest rungs of the ladder, as they account for the majority of population. Therefore, my feeling is that keeping in mind a functional-based approach, these two rungs at the bottom of the ladder could be further disaggregated to clearly distinguish between open defecation and different "basic" service levels. On the other hand, the top rungs of the ladder seem to have more interesting from an academic point-of-view than from a policy-making perspective ...

It would be great to learn from those who have applied this kind of tools in the field ...

C. I found the alternative to the ladder suggested by JMK, the “score card”, very interesting. This different approach based on combination of different data to yield a single final score (i.e. the index approach) is certainly more flexible and allows the combination of different data. It may be used, as the sanitation ladder, for monitoring purposes, as it can be easily disseminated to non-technical audiences. However, as JMK states, there are different aspects that need to be carefully considered in index construction: the utility functions employed to assess single indicators, the weights assigned to each indicator, and the aggregation function (compensatory versus non-compensatory aggregation). The final index / score can otherwise be easily misunderstood. I personally have experience in proposing composite indicators for the WASH sector, and my feeling is that at the end of the day, one needs to be very careful when it comes to keep the simplicity of the tool. That is, I would not recommend combining many indicators but 4 to 5 core indicators, and employ a clear and transparent method for index construction …

All the best,

Ricard
The following user(s) like this post: JKMakowka

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • JKMakowka
  • JKMakowka's Avatar
  • Just call me Kris :)
  • Posts: 1044
  • Karma: 35
  • Likes received: 359

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Regarding the score-card concept as an evolution of the function based sanitation ladder:
I can't claim that it is a fully thought through idea, but it is based on:
1. "Sanitary assessment forms", a simplified semiquantitative field monitoring tool from the WHO water safety plan concept to assess and compare potential risks in water supply infrastructure.
2. "Community score cards", a concept by the World Bank (and others) developed as a tool for communities to assess and give feedback on the perceived level of service offered by municipalities and public utilities.

OK so how could it work?
It could come with several equal functional dimensions that are scored for example on a 0-3 scale (from "non existent" to "state of the art"). This is more of an qualitative scoring, but various quantitative factors (for example effluent water quality) and/or technology options could be suggested to inform the qualitative score.

The quantitative part then comes in by adding up the numerical scores and ranking different system along several service level threshold values, e.g. inadequate, simple, improved, advanced, sustainable etc. In part the general idea of a linear progression of service levels is partially retained, but it is more generic and lower levels can be reached through a combination of different scores from different dimensions.

A critical point here might be that for example minimum health standards should not be replaced by other dimensions to reach a higher service quality level (the main reason for the linear progression in the lower levels of the functional sanitation ladder I think). With the score card system on the other hand this is theoretically possible, i.e. a system could score really
high on reuse factors and other non directly health related dimensions, but very badly on pathogen containment and thus reach a relatively high service level in the semi quantitative scoring.
A solution to this issue might be to have certain dimensions with a special weight, or come up with a clever multiplying instead of adding scoring system (as 0*something is always zero), but I think this is more of an theoretical concern and will rarely surface in real world applications of the score card system.

Additionally the issues from this could be further mitigated by a condition based score weighting system, that is custom correction factors for each category (a sub-sum of dimensions) to adjust for climatic, environmental and other factors, for example multiply a specific category score by 1.2 if in dry area or multiply other score by 0.8 if in area with population density higher than...
Such correction factors would for example make a system with bad pathogen containment score very low in an urban area, but less so in a dry, sparsely settled rural area. It could also allow to factor in some "community" aspects into an otherwise individual/on-site system assessment.

It is important to note that such a scorecard system should not be too descriptive to allow for sufficient flexibility by the implementers. The very nature of it being a somewhat qualitative assessment requires it to be done by (or under the supervision of) skilled personnel, which makes it crucial that the system is not a pure top down "mechanical" scoring.

Furthermore, nationally agreed on correction factors (see above) would also allow different countries to express their sovereign priorities and special circumstances while still retaining a somewhat comparable monitoring score for international efforts like the JMP.

I know this sounds complicated at first, but with a well made assessment form template (or maybe even a computerised form on a smartphone) this should be quite practical to implement and use.

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
  • elkv
  • elkv's Avatar
  • I have been working with sanitation, in different ways and through different vehicles both in Sweden where I am from as well as internationally, since 1994 when I finished my MSc degree in Environmental Engineering. Currently I am working as a consultant
  • Posts: 12
  • Karma: 8
  • Likes received: 5

Re: TDS: Week 1 Theme - Evolution and Further Development of the Sanitation Ladder

Hi Joe,
I am not closely enough involved (not at all, except giving some feedback on the JMP WASH process some years back and another on the SDG process also a few years back) in the SDG process to give you an answer. I hope Ricard can come to a rescue with a more informed answer on the SDG process! :)

Kind regards

Elisabeth
Elisabeth Kvarnström

Please Log in to join the conversation.

You need to login to reply
Page selection:
Share this thread:
Recently active users. Who else has been active?
Time to create page: 0.132 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum