Can WASH deliver more than just sanitation?

Through successful WASH intervention, communities access a new service that improves their quality of life, and also learn about equity and inclusion.

Blog by development expert Suvojit Chattopadhyay

The abysmal state of access to safe water and sanitation facilities in the developing world is currently a major cause for alarm; 580,000 children die every year from preventable diarrheal diseases. This is due largely to the 2.5 billion people around the globe who do not have access to safe sanitation. Not only can an effective WASH intervention save lives, it can also engineer changes in the social fabric of communities that adopt these behavioural changes. This points to a key attribute of a successful WASH intervention – that through these programmes, communities not only access a new service that improves their quality of life, but they also learn from being part of a concrete intervention that emphasises equity and inclusion.

Let me explain how. Safe sanitation is essentially ‘total’. In a community, even one family practising open defecation puts the health of other families at risk. Also, unsafe sanitation practices pollute local potable and drinking water sources in the habitations. Together, this can undo any gains from partial coverage of WASH interventions. This much is now widely accepted by sanitation practitioners around the world. However, there remains a serious challenge when it comes to the implementation of this concept.

When a community is introduced to a WASH-focused behaviour change campaign, there are often variations in the levels of take-up in different families. This could be because of several barriers – financial ability, cultural beliefs, education levels, etc. In response, external agencies have many options. They can focus more on families in their behaviour change campaigns, offer them material and financial support or incentives, or exert peer pressure (which may in some cases become coercive, etc).

However, the best approach – whether facilitated by an external agent or not – is for a community to devise a collective response. The issue should be framed as a collective action problem that requires solving for the creation of a public good. In many instances, communities have come together to support the poorest families – social engineering at its finest. At its best, recognising the needs of every member of a community will lead to a recognition of the challenges that the typically marginalised groups face. It is this recognition that could prompt a rethink of social norms and relationships.

Read the full article on the WSSCC Guardian partner zone.

One response to “Can WASH deliver more than just sanitation?

  1. French English
    Je me met en total porte à faux de cette présentation de l’assainissement.
    Dans la défécation il y a deux choses à retenir: le comportement et les excréments.
    Le comportement
    Que ce soit en configuration à l’air libre ou dans une latrine individuelle ou dans un collectif la façon de déféquer est la même et ce pour l’ensemble de la population terrestre.
    Les excréments
    Produit de la défécation les excréments sont un sujet tabou, on en parle pas (dans l’exposé il n’en est fait nulle part référence). Non seulement on les oublie mais en plus on en s’occupe pas de leur devenir, laissant à MERE NATURE le soin éventuel de s’en accommoder.
    Que deviennent ces excréments?
    Dans la configuration de la défécation à l’air libre, les excréments déposés sur le sol, finissent par disparaître comme par magie. Une personne s’en préoccupe? non.
    Dans la configuration d’un service d’assainissement individuel ou collectif, les excréments sont stockés puis acheminés sur une aire de stockage pour être épandus sur le sol: identique à la configuration à l’air libre mais sous couvert d’une technologie couteuse qui donne une image de savoir faire quand il n’y en a pas.
    L’infrastructure de collecte de l’assainissement tel qu’il est pratiqué à ce jour et comme l’auteur pense que c’est la solution idéale, est la pire des choses pour l’environnement.
    Les excréments déposés sur le sol en mode défécation à l’air libre sont et restent des excréments. En mode assainissement de collecte ils sont des boues d’excréments: un véritable poison pour l’environnement. La principale cause de bien des épidémies dans les pays en développement.
    Tous ceux qui parlent de l’assainissement ne parlent que du superficiel: le comportement, mais personne ne parle de la véritable problématique: le traitement d’épuration des excréments sans les transformer en boue d’excréments et en les éliminant totalement.
    Une latrine en OR massif n’éliminera jamais une matière fécale.
    Le concept d’Assainissement Biologique de lyseconcept s’attaque essentiellement à cette problématique en éliminant entièrement toute trace de matière fécale dans le reliquat d’eau en sortie du site pilote.
    I put myself in total overhang of this presentation sanitation.
    In defecation there are two things to remember: the behavior and feces.
    The behaviour
    Whether in configuration to the open air or in an individual or in a collective latrine how to defecate and this is the same for all of the world’s population.
    Product defecation droppings are taboo, we not speak (in the statement there is no reference made). Not only are forgotten but the more we not deal with their fate, leaving MOTHER NATURE eventual care to live with it.
    What happens to these droppings?
    In the configuration of defecation in the open air, feces deposited on the ground, eventually disappear like magic. A person cares? no.
    In the configuration of an individual or collective sanitation services, feces are stored and then transported to a storage area to be spread on the floor: identical to the configuration in the open air but under cover of an expensive technology gives a picture of knowledge when there is none.
    The sanitation collection infrastructure as practiced to date and as the author think it is perfect, is the worst thing for the environment.
    Excrement deposited on the ground in fashion defecation in the open are and remain excrement. Sanitation collection method they are sludge excrement: a real poison for the environment. The main cause of many epidemics in developing countries.
    All those who talk about sanitation speak only superficial: the behavior, but no one talks about the real issue: the treatment of excreta disposal without turning them into mud with excrement and eliminating them completely.
    A latrine Solid Gold will never eliminate fecal matter.
    The concept of bioremediation of lyseconcept tackles this problem by essentially completely removing any trace of fecal matter in the water remaining at the output of pilot site.

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