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Quick guide to Sanitation

Published on: 17/02/2014

Less than one in three people have access to adequate sanitation. We want to change that.

Only sustainable sanitation services for all can deliver long-lasting dignity, health and economic benefits. IRC is working with government and development partners on practical tools and approaches that can be applied at scale. 

We analyse what works – and what doesn't – in funded programmes and national policies.

Across the globe, 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation (the effective management of human waste through its disposal, collection, treatment, transfer and re-use). And even those who do have access to toilets lack a sanitation service that’s safe to use, and easy and affordable to maintain.

Inadequate sanitation services have a wide impact. They slow down social and economic development and are a major cause of the spread of diseases. Most of the diseases resulting from sanitation have a direct relation to poverty and mostly affect children under five. They result in reduced child growth and more than 1.6 million deaths each year.  

IRC sees sanitation as a public good, one requiring national and local government involvement alongside private entrepreneurs and individual households. All have a role in the delivery chain of a sanitation service, from the construction of facilities to the safe disposal or re-use of human waste (as an energy source or fertiliser, for example).

IRC’s focus

IRC is focusing on the delivery of sustainable sanitation services to households where most people will not have access to sewerage.

We support national and local governments, the private sector, donors, NGOs and individuals to move beyond the construction of latrines and toilets towards the effective delivery of sustainable sanitation services for all. 

For a sanitation service to work, the interests of all parties need to be aligned and linked up through formal and informal partnerships. IRC works with all the providers and stakeholders to facilitate dialogue, and bring in innovative ways of improving practices, policies and the regulatory environment. 

We analyse what works – and what doesn’t – in funded programmes and national policies. We then use our extensive network and outreach to disseminate what we’ve learned.