The continuing conundrum of shared sanitation in slums

The continuing conundrum of shared sanitation in slums. OUPblog, Dec 28 2015.  by Marieke Heijnen.

An excerpt – Some have argued that shared sanitation facilities are the only solution in slums, due to space and cost limitations. But the discussion continues—some research argues that the focus should be less on the user of the shared facility, and more on the facility itself. Others note that sanitation provision needs to go beyond technology or user-numbers, and include factors of culture, affordability and ownership. Overall, research shows that a simple statement of ‘shared sanitation’ does not account for the diversity of shared sanitation found in different settings—the different ‘forms’ of shared sanitation and the lack of consensus on definitions complicates monitoring for international targets.

With increasing urbanisation, sanitation in slums will become a more pressing issue. Providing adequate, safe and accessible sanitation for all users in slums is a public health priority which requires a multifaceted approach, considering the actual facilities as well as increasing education and empowerment among the potential users. In addition, accountability from landlords and local government is essential. In order for shared sanitation facilities to be a sustainable step on the sanitation ladder, policy makers, programme implementers, and target communities must join forces to ensure the facilities are culturally appropriate, affordable, well-maintained, and user-friendly. Then hopefully, we can ensure that all facilities—whether shared or used by one household—provide the health, comfort, and privacy benefits that a toilet really should.

Read the complete article.

 

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