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Making sanitation inclusive: reflections from the 39th WEDC Conference

The theme for this year’s WEDC Conference was Ensuring Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All. The theme reflects the ambitions at the heart of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development to ensure that no one is left behind in efforts to achieve universal access to WASH by 2030. It’s now a critical time for ensuring that WASH research, programmes, policies and services are designed and delivered in ways that promote Equity and Non-Discrimination.

Public toilets: a viable interim solution? Reflections from the 39th WEDC conference

The WHO/UNICEF joint monitoring programme defines improved sanitation as access to individual household toilets. This ultimate goal advocates for every family to access and maintain their own latrine - providing the dignity, safety and convenience of not having to share. However, in many urban areas issues of land ownership, space and a lack of infrastructure make this an impossible aim. Although CLTS has been very successful in creating the demand for sanitation, we must look further to viable and sustainable solutions in urban settings which can respond to these challenges.

Shifting the perspective: how urban CLTS can contribute to achieving universal access to sanitation

Urban sanitation differs from rural sanitation in many ways however one of the fundamental differences is that in urban areas one group, (usually the wealthy), benefits from the public provision of sanitation at the expense of others  (usually the poor). Poor households in urban areas must often find their own solutions to failures in sanitation services. During a workshop on urban CLTS (U-CLTS) held in Ethiopia and hosted by Plan International, we explored the potential of CLTS to support safely managed, city-wide sanitation.

Reflections on the Addis workshop on using CLTS in urban and peri-urban contexts

I am placing below some reflections after attending the urban CLTS workshop in Addis:

1. My objective in attending was to enhance my knowledge of the understanding and practice of the application of CLTS in urban areas, the issues involved and potential ways to move forward. My objective was more than adequately addressed by the range of experiences that I got to hear about.

2. What I have distilled from these three days (both during sessions and conversations at meal times and in coffee sessions) is summarized below under a certain number of headings.

Shit will be fought with shit

Hands of majority of motivators in Fatehgarh Saheb rise to a question – ‘how many of you have taken shit in your hands?’
It is surprising. Hands rise without hesitation, with pride though. One would expect hands rise to holding a sweet in hand, their child in arms, or a precious thing, may be. But shit?
Asked don’t they feel the disgust, they reply in negative. They say that this way, they are able to explain most convincingly the relation between shit, flies and food. A sarpanch (village headman) seconds this – he says people get moved by this the most.

Tracking the construction of latrines in Zambia

Monitoring is always an important part of the development process, especially in CLTS. What are the factors and milestones we discuss when it comes to improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene? We discuss Open Defecation Free status (ODF). We discuss uptake of handwashing with soap. We also discuss the construction of latrines. All of these factors can be indicators that will point to improved sanitation standards and the potential reduction of diarrheal disease. But how can we monitor and evaluate these indicators in a regular, timely, and accurate way?

Rapid Action Learning Units — Real Time learning and adaptation for Swachh Bharat Mission

On a recent visit to a village in central India, we felt as if we had travelled back in time to the days of the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), when toilets were built as a tick-box exercise. Over a hundred concrete stalls with latrine pans had been built in the settlement. We call them concrete stalls instead of toilets:  few were functional as they had faulty designs and connections to pits. Only one was in use… well, technically two —one as an actual toilet and the other as a storehouse for electric material.

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