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TitlePartnerships for sanitation for the urban poor : is it time to shift paradigm?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsEales, K
Pagination13 p.; 21 refs.; 6 boxes
Date Published2008-11-19
Place PublishedDelft, The Netherlands
Keywordsaccess to sanitation, millennium development goals, partnerships, poverty, sanitation, sanitation services, sdisan, urban areas, urban communities

Pressure to achieve MDG goals is contributing to a reappraisal of the potential for partnerships to help overcome the challenges of providing viable, affordable sanitation services to the urban poor, by leveraging the combined strengths of government, civil society, and non-government service providers. A small but growing number of successful partnerships are supporting sanitation improvement for poor urban households, but the sector should be cautious in assuming that models that have worked well for water can be extrapolated to sanitation. On-site sanitation is highly segmented across toilet construction, waste collection and waste disposal, each supported by different micro service providers, and linking the three segments through strong working partnerships is very difficult. Strategies to extend conventional networked sewers are constrained by high capital and operating costs, and the reluctance of authorities to recognise the permanence of unauthorised settlements. Yet there have been some remarkable successes – notably in providing communal toilet blocks and condominial sewerage systems. Partnerships are not a substitute for action by government, nor do they absolve government of responsibility for investing in service provision. They do hold the potential to harness fresh approaches to achieve public sector objectives, leverage capacity and broker the relationships needed to overcome mistrust, disengagement, poor accountability and the fragmentation that often characterises the sanitation sector.

(authors abstract)

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