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Meeting the sanitation challenge

Sanitation service delivery models in developing countries often fall short in terms of scale, quality and sustainability. To meet the sanitation challenge, planning needs to take all sectors in account dealing with sanitation services; it needs to step out of 'sector silo' thinking. Financing mechanisms need to be adequate to the job, and regulatory provisions need to be in place and facilitate partnerships between service authorities, providers and users. 

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). To address the many challenges of providing sanitation to all, we need to take the whole system into account with all of its dimensions, which are unique to each context.

Tools & guidance

IRC supports 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. IRC aims to accelerate progress in sanitation and hygiene by strengthening the capacity of the main actors for more efficient and effective service delivery in sanitation.

We analyse what works – and what doesn't – in large (national) sanitation programmes and national policies. We develop models, approaches, tactics, tools and skills that can be applied at scale; to achieve full coverage in a district or country over time. 

Below you will find two tools which we use in different contexts; a Sanitation Supply and Demand Tool and a Faecal Waste Flow Calculator.

The Sanitation Supply and Demand Tool helps to assess the match (or mismatch) between demand and supply for sanitation. It consists of a field tool that delivers, within a couple of weeks, a one-page overview matching sanitation supply and demand. This helps to give insight into the existing and potential future levels of demand for sanitation and offers an overview of current supply chain actors and existing market constraints.

The Faecal Waste Flow Calculator is being developed to determine faecal waste volumes along the entire sanitation service chain, allowing the user to determine where the biggest losses are and thus where interventions should be targeted. The tool offers an easily understood representation of the volumes of sludge that are safely dealt with in a city at each stage of the sanitation chain and also a scorecard analysis of other more qualitative data on governance and enabling factors such as the existence of policies and legislation and availability and transparency of plans. We owe a lot to the Shit Flow Diagram which originally was developed by the World Bank/WSP and further developed by the SFD Promotion Initiative. They were the first to visualize excreta management in cities and towns in one diagram.


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