Delivering rural sanitation programs at scale with equity and sustainability: a call to action

WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

Two billion people lack basic sanitation, 72% of whom live in rural areas. At current rates of progress, universal access to safely managed sanitation will not be realised until after 2100. 

Many countries are failing to make sanitation and hygiene a political priority and invest the resources necessary, and donor expenditure has been declining since 2015. Rural sanitation programmes, typically using blanket single approaches as a blueprint, have so far struggled to deliver equitable and sustainable results at scale.

Together with Plan International, SNV, UNICEF, USAID, World Bank and WSSCC, we are calling on all stakeholders to renew their commitment to rural sanitation, step up their ambitions and investments, and use the following five principles in their programmes:

  • Government leadership: Programmes are led by national and local government, who display strong political leadership.
  • Alignment: All stakeholders align with strategies and plans agreed nationally and locally, and work in a coordinated way.
  • Area-wide: Programmes are designed to reach all in a given jurisdiction or area, building on the available institutional capacity and resources.
  • Inclusion: Programmes strive to understand which communities and individuals are at risk of being left behind and put in place the strategies needed to address such inequalities.
  • Evidence-based and adaptation: Programmes are informed by the context; adapt and combine approaches on the basis of what works where; and build in learning and adaptation loops.

Download our call to action at the top left of this page. This publication is linked to our Rethinking rural sanitation work and programming guidance.