A Call to Action: Delivering Rural Sanitation Programs at Scale, with Equity and Sustainability

Date: 9th October 2019

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Two billion people lack basic sanitation and 72 per- cent of them live in rural areas. At the current pace, universal access to safely managed sanitation will not become a reality until the 22nd century.

Diseases linked to poor sanitation and hygiene hit children and the most vulnerable hardest – women and girls are affected disproportionally by poor access.

Making sanitation and hygiene a political priority and investing the required resources remains a struggle for many countries. At the same time, donor expenditure for basic sanitation has been declining since 2015. Although successes have been achieved, past programs have not yet managed to deliver equitable and sustainable results at scale.

Plan International UK, SNV, UNICEF, WaterAid, the World Bank and WSSCC are calling on all stakeholders to renew their commitment to rural sanitation and hygiene and step up their ambitions and investments. Going forward, we call for the use of the following five principles to underpin rural sanitation programs:

1. government leadership: Programs are led by national and local government, who display strong political leadership, backed with human and financial resources.

2. stakeholder alignment: All stakeholders align with strategies and plans agreed at national and local level and work in a coordinated way, strengthening government systems.

3. area-wide programming: Programs are de- signed to reach all within a given jurisdiction, at home and in public institutions, building on available institutional capacity and resources.

4. inclusive solutions: Programs strive to understand which communities and individuals are at risk of being left behind and take measures needed to address such inequalities.

5. evidence-based and adaptive implementation: Programs are informed by the context, adapt and combine approaches based on what works where, and use learning loops.

These five principles draw on and are aligned with the Sanitation and Water for All building blocks and collaborative behaviors and specifically call on:

» governments to state their ambitions for rural sanitation and hygiene, to set ambitious targets, to display political leadership from the top to the local levels, and to back this with human and financial resources; to build in multi-stakeholder review processes to tackle obstacles and learn how to reach those left behind.

» donors to make long-term commitments for investment and support, recognizing the value of sanitation in its own right and in support of broader human capital gains and resilience; to acknowledge that one-off initiatives won’t provide equitable and sustainable results; to increase their funding and alter their modalities, allowing for longer time-frames, innovation, and a sharp focus on equitable results and systems strengthening.

» development partners, international financial institutions, and civil society to recognize and foster government leadership, and ensure that their efforts strengthen local capacities for sustainability; to adopt the five principles, increase coordination, and tailor approaches to context, and to learn and adapt constantly.

To offer inspiration, we share some case studies from around the world, illustrating different journeys to address the rural sanitation and hygiene challenge.  Read the full Call to Action document to learn more.

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