Sanitation and hygiene in South Asia – a practitioner’s view

Date: 9th November 2010

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In January 2008, a group of 53 South Asian practitioners in a Dhaka workshop organised by IRC, WaterAid and BRAC with support from WSSCC, shared some interesting experiences on conducting rural and urban sanitation and hygiene programmes in their region. While the workshop, entitled ‘Beyond Construction, Use by All’, was a gathering of practitioners, much of what they discussed had far-reaching policy and strategy implications.

For one, the speed of urbanisation coupled with the growing scale of the urban slums accounts for an ever-increasing amount of faeces let loose in the urban environment. A lot of work is ongoing to find the most effective and efficient way of collecting the faeces, but not enough emphasis is placed on the rest of the sanitation chain, i.e. storage, disposal, treatment, etc. In rural areas, the current success of demand-driven approaches requires a stable supply chain and sufficient service providers, but needs a strong system of quality control, to ensure programmes really reach the poorest of the poor. In general, it became clear that too little is known about the actual cost of sanitation and hygiene programmes, when taking into account hardware, software, and so-called project overheads, such as costs for planning, management and staff.

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