Centralized, top-down planning of the sanitation sector has been largely ineffective in providing sanitation services to those in need. Community-centred approaches explore another way which focuses on individuals and households.

Approaches such as household-centred environmental sanitation seek in a holistic way to equitably balance resources and focus on people and community-centred planning.

Household-centred environmental sanitation (HCES) challenges conventional thinking about sanitation; it proposes inclusive planning and implementation of environmental sanitation services, which depart radically from the centralized policies and planning of the past. The approach places the household and its neighbourhood at the core of the planning and decision-making process.

Environmental sanitation involves behaviours and actions of individuals as well as the technical expertise of WASH facilities to improve sanitation. Stakeholders use careful material flow analysis to plan conservation and reuse of water, rainwater, and recycling of sanitation products.

HCES is modelled on the Bellagio Principle – a framework that balances the needs and demands of people with those of the environment. Both HCES and the Bellagio Principle rest on the following points.

  • Human dignity, quality of life, and environmental security of the individual are at the centre of this approach, which is responsive and accountable to the needs and demands of people in the community setting.
  • Decision-making involves participation of all stakeholders, especially the consumers and providers of services.
  • Waste is considered a resource (to be diluted as little as possible), and its management forms part of an integrated water resource, nutrient flow, and waste management process.
  • Solutions to environmental sanitation problems are sought first in households and communities, working into larger domains if solutions cannot be found (e.g. town, district, catchment, city).

Applying HCES in communities relies not only on the willingness and ingenuity of individuals within a community or town, but on all decision-makers in the field – elected and appointed municipal planners along with sector specialists, working with staff of NGOs and community organizations.

Focusing on unserved or underserved areas in urban and periurban settings, Field-testing of HCES began in 2007 in selected cities in Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Kenya, Laos, Nepal, and the United Republic of Tanzania. For more information contact Christoph Lüthi.

WSSCC and the Swiss research institute SANDEC / EAWAG advocate this approach in the Working Group on Environmental Sanitation. The HCES Guidelines and the Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies is the first report published under this collaboration. It can be found in the Resource section.

Last updated: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 15:12
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