Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on SDGs)

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Re: Summary available

Dear all,

Thank you for participating in our thematic discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals and discussing with us the topic of "Basic v. safe sanitation."

The summary is now available here .

- Katrin
Dr. Katrin Dauenhauer
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  • Katrin
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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear Eddy, dear Tim, dear discussion participants,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful contributions to our discussion on the SDGs and basic v. safe sanitation in particular.

The official part of the discussion is hereby closed but you are of course welcome to continue to post in this thread.

Next week, I will provide a summary of the posts published up until now and will inform you here how to access it once it is available.

Best,
Katrin
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  • eddyperez
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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Today is the last day of this discussion. My sense is that the discussion has provided more clarity on the difference between basic sanitation and safe sanitation ( services) and I feel that there has been a broad agreement that the SDGs are calling for basic sanitation for all and then moving up the ladder to safe sanitation services for as many as possible in the next 15 years. While there has been a vigorous discussion about the specifics of the indicators and how they will be measured, my own feeling is that we have come a very long way in both of these areas and that we should not allow "perfection" to be the enemy of the "good". The SDG era will be launched very soon and I am confident that the indicators and ways of measurements will improve over time as the sector gets more experience.

Moving forward, the challenge is to support countries in achieving the SDG sanitation goals and targets. This will include engaging governments and other stakeholders in countries in discussions such as the difference between safe and basic and moving forward with policy and sector reforms that will be needed to implement strong programs.
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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Sorry for the late post, but I wanted to say a word (not the final word!) from the economic perspective. I think it is critical to distinguish basic (or adequate) sanitation from safely managed excreta because of the cost implications. They have very (very!) different costs, and also there is different demand from populations. As I mentioned in a post in Theme 1 just now, there will be a new World Bank report, conducted with JMP, that estimates global costs of the WASH-related targets 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3. In brief, adding safe fecal sludge management and/or sewerage with treatment will cost a further three times the cost of having basic (on-site) sanitation alone. The numbers will be published soon but I just wanted to use these findings to say I am doubtful we can bring safely managed sanitation for all by 2030, but we can surely meet universal basic sanitation. We should therefore not endanger meeting basic sanitation for all. In concluding, as I have outlined - the distinction between basic and safe is important as meeting these targets is partly a resource (and willingness to pay) issue, but also it is about having the institutions that set and implement the policies and regulations - which is significantly more challenging for safely managed than basic sanitation.

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  • RickJohnston
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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Hi all - just to clarify, the safe factors shown in the table taken from the Statistical Note are not meant to be used for making actual estimates, only to illustrate the method. The paragraph below the table explains that "The safety factors shown in the table above are for the demonstration purposes of this note, but the actual factors will come from actual country situations, be it from literature reviews, focused studies or in-country consultations".

In fact, this table is closely related to SFDs, which would generate data on actual safety factors for the various steps along the sanitation chain, in different settings. The categories listed (rows in the table) are the standard response categories used in the household surveys that JMP draws on, so we have estimates (not perfect but still not too bad) about the number of people who report using each of those types of sanitation facility, at country, regional and global levels. The response categories are described in more detail in our Core Questions document here: www.wssinfo.org/definitions-methods/data-sources/. (Note: the table does have a consistent typo: "sewer" should be "flush/pour flush" - sorry about that.)

The idea of the table is to combine these data on use of facilities with other data on safe management of different types of facilities, in different settings. Collecting those other data will be one of the big challenges of the SDGs, and many in the SuSanA community are involved in providing the evidence base needed, e.g. through work on SFDs and FSM. The JMP is very aware of the limitations of the "improved sanitation" metric, and the concept of "safely managed sanitation" as a better indicator is one that emerged from a long engagement with sector experts, including many members of this forum. We are very open to discussion about the best ways to get data to monitor safe management of faecal wastes that can be used for tracking SDGs, and welcome feedback on the approach described in the statistical note.

Best regards,

Rick (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear all,

Thank you for sharing your experiences and raising questions on this discussion thread so far.

This is just a short notice that the official part of this discussion will end soon. Contributions published during the official part of the discussion will be included in the summary which will be published next week (further information to follow).

You will of course be able to continue the conversation after that point. However, if you would like your ideas and thoughts to be included in the official summary of our discussion, NOW is the time to hit the reply button! ;)

- Katrin
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  • SDickin
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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Hello all,
I've just joined the forum after reading along for a while...

Building on the point Tim brought up about having a holistic plan... Within this, more in-depth or critical analysis that considers who wins and who loses with a given intervention may contribute to reducing unsafe situations for some groups (particularly the most vulnerable or marginalized), and could potentially highlight a better option. As a geographer, this seems like a bit of a research gap.

I think Kumi made some good points earlier regarding safeguarding water resources and the environment. If we are truly talking about sustainable development goals, then identifying who/what benefits or is negatively impacted should include environmental and social dimensions as well (e.g. protecting ecosystem integrity, safe for women to access at night).

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Sarah
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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

I am wondering if this is supposed to be descriptive not prescriptive. But if so, page 15 is pretty badly worded.

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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

That really is an odd table, first time I've seen it.
Following on from our conversation on twitter where you (Joe) said:

in terms of safety, a composting toilet is apparently as safe as a first world sewered system. that's rubbish.

and

according to that, composting toilets are always better than everything else.


I agree with you that it is very odd. I am happy to see that they judged composting toilets as so safe but I think they went a bit overboard here and exaggerated? Also where are UDDTs or are they lumped in with composting toilets? Also "sewer to piped" does that mean "and treatment plant"?

Sorry, haven't read the entire report, this forum post is just prompted by what Joe put in twitter (his twitter handle is @bucksci if you want to follow him)
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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

I was wrong, there is a calculation, section B4, page 15



That's.. um.. interesting..

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Re: Theme 4: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Thanks for that update, Rick.

It seems to me that you've now muddled two quite different issues,

1. The JMP and your explanation seem to be saying that progress to the HRWS and the actual wording of the goal is not going to be measured until first everyone has MDG "improved" sanitation. Given that this MDG failed spectacularly, how long are we going to wait for universal access? How are we going to know when we've got it?

2. The whole issue of 'safely managed sanitation services'

"excreta are safely disposed in situ or transported and treated off-site" is, in my opinion, a phrase which is almost entirely meaningless - unless backed up with information such as QMRA or some effort at global standards.

It is well known that emptying a latrine has significant risks. So is an owner emptying a latrine in their own property going to "count" as "safely disposed in situ"?

Will systems generated from the Indian sanitation programmes count? Will other system installed by the range of players in WASH all count? Who decides?

Or are we just saying that national governments will decide this for themselves?

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  • RickJohnston
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Re: Theme IV: Safe versus basic sanitation (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Hi all - glad to see this fascinating discussion. I wanted to share a few excerpts from the recent materials which JMP has prepared to support development of the SDG monitoring plans, relevant to the discussion about how basic and safely managed sanitation relate to each other. We propose the term "safely managed sanitation services" to include use of (not access to) improved facilities which are not shared (same as the MDGs so far) and where excreta are safely disposed in situ or transported and treated off-site. Both basic and safely managed services will be tracked and reported in our future publications:

"Service levels. The data collected by JMP yield information about different service levels for water supply and sanitation. The core proposed indicators for SDG monitoring of drinking water and sanitation are ‘safely managed drinking water services’ and ‘safely managed sanitation services’, respectively, as described more fully in Section B. JMP will also report lower service levels, such as basic water and sanitation services (similar to the ‘improved’ classification used for MDG tracking) and no services (e.g. open defecation or use of surface water as a drinking water source). Countries will need to reach universal coverage with a basic level of service before universal coverage of ‘safely managed services’ can be attained, and progress towards universal basic coverage should be seen as an important and necessary step towards reaching the SDG targets.

Location. The core proposed indicators for SDG monitoring of drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, as described more fully in Section B, refer to services at the household level. JMP will also report access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services outside the home, focusing on schools and health facilities."

The full statistical note can be downloaded from UN-Water:

www.unwater.org/publications/publications-detail/en/c/327832/

Also please note that we avoid the terms "safe sanitation" and "safe water", focusing instead on "safely managed services", which can be more clearly defined and measured.

Best regards,

Rick Johnston
Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation
World Health Organization
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