Rethinking rural sanitation

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Rural, Sanitation, Partnerships
Image: WaterAid/Tom van Cakenberghe

With UNICEF and Plan International UK we have developed a set of resources on how to design, cost and implement programmes for rural sanitation.

Two billion people lack basic sanitation, 72% of whom live in rural areas. Being without basic sanitation services has a particularly profound impact on children, women and girls, and people in vulnerable situations, risking their health, safety and dignity.

Over the past four decades, rural sanitation programming has shifted from construction-driven approaches towards social mobilisation and behavioural change approaches, and market-based approaches have gained momentum. Although these innovations have been important steps forward, they have resulted in mixed outcomes, and shown that applying a blueprint of single approaches across large areas, or even countries, does not always work, and is simply not enough to reach everyone, everywhere. Additionally, the cost of facilitating and delivering sanitation approaches is often not well-understood or monitored. To accelerate progress, a new way of thinking and planning for rural sanitation is needed.

To address this, we collaborated with Plan International UK and UNICEF to:

  1. Develop Guidance on programming for rural sanitation for programme policy makers, planners and implementers. This outlines how to design an equitable and sustainable rural sanitation programme at scale. See the full guidance (PDF) here and briefing note (PDF) here (also available in French [PDF], Spanish [PDF] and Portuguese [PDF]).
  2. Launch the Rethinking rural sanitation course, in collaboration with The Open University, based on the programming guidance above and aiming to help people working in the WASH sector to improve rural sanitation programmes
  3. Develop Guidance on the costing of rural sanitation approaches (PDF), with an accompanying costing framework spreadsheet (XLS), which encourages comprehensive cost tracking and reporting in rural sanitation and hygiene programmes.
  4. Launch a call to action on rural sanitation – Delivering rural sanitation programmes at scale with equity and sustainability

You can also see the outputs of the initial review and consolidation of existing evidence and experiences on rural sanitation approaches: download the full Review here (PDF) and Summary note here (PDF).

You can download all documents described in the list at the top of this page.

Unicef, Plan and WaterAid logos