Tag Archives: scaling-up

Sanitation for all: Scaling up is hard to do – Jan Willem Rosenboom

Sanitation for all: Scaling up is hard to do | Source: Jan Willem Rosenboom, Devex, March 22 2016 |

If you invest even a little bit of your time in keeping on top of developments in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, you will have seen at least some of the blogs, reports and articles reminding us all that the world failed to attain the Millennium Development Goals’ sanitation targets — by a wide margin.


A school teacher leads a community-led total sanitation activity in Ethiopia. Photo by: Plan International / Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Sustainable Development Goals give us a second chance to get it right, but they seriously up the ante. Instead of “merely” providing half of the unserved population with access to improved sanitation, as the MDGs required, the SDGs tell us we can only declare success once every person, every school and every health facility has — and uses — safely managed sanitation facilities.

We have 15 years to get it right. Given the below-average results we obtained in the past 15 years, it is clear that we should ask some hard questions and examine the evidence emerging from the field, in the hope we can do much better in the next 15 years.

Pilots never fail, and never scale

Anywhere in the world, if we look hard enough, we can find successful, innovative projects changing people’s lives for the better — and not only in sanitation; this is true for every sector.

The assumption that successful pilots will — by some unexamined magic — lead to sustained scale up efforts is mostly false and, as a result, we seem stuck with repeated small-scale successes, rather than impact at scale. In the past I have labeled this observation “Rosenboom’s law on pilots:” Pilots never fail, and never scale.

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Testing CLTS Approaches for Scalability: Nepal Learning Brief

Nepal UNC

Pour Flush Toilet in Nepal. Photo Credit: Vidya Venkataramanan

Plan International supports Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) implementation in a number of districts in Nepal. In this learning brief, we review Plan International Nepal’s CLTS activities. We found government targets and definitions to be ambitious while decentralized planning allowed a focus on community-led processes. Plan International and other sanitation practitioners can support CLTS outcomes by providing post-triggering training and technical support to community volunteers, focusing on achieving gradual, yet sustained outcomes in program areas, and continuing to work with local governments to ensure that financing mechanisms for the poor are locally developed and equitable.

Link to learning brief: https://waterinstitute.unc.edu/files/2015/11/learning-series-nepal-learning-brief-2015-11.pdf

Citation: Community-led Total Sanitation in Nepal: Findings from an Implementation Case Study. Venkataramanan, Vidya, Alexandra Shannon, and Jennifer Bogle. 2015. Chapel Hill, USA: The Water Institute at UNC.

Is there a sustainable business case for sanitation?

Left to right: Radu Ban (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Babar Kabir (BRAC) and Bernadette Blom (Goodwell Investments), panelists at the workshop Making Sustainable Business out of Sanitation. Photo: Peter McIntyre

Left to right: Radu Ban (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Babar Kabir (BRAC) and Bernadette Blom (Goodwell Investments), panelists at the workshop Making Sustainable Business out of Sanitation. Photo: Peter McIntyre

The business case for sanitation in developing countries is testified by the thousands of small scale entrepreneurs springing up to tackle problems of open defecation and process faecal waste and urine.

Will these businesses be profitable and sustainable? Can they address the huge scale of the problem? Will they address the issues in rural areas as well as urban areas? These questions are much harder to answer.

The evidence from an event at the International Water Week leading up to the Sarphati Sanitation Award was mixed. The workshop Making Sustainable Business out of Sanitation, showed a high level of innovation and enthusiasm for businesses to address two of the most intractable public health and environment issues of our age – the 2.5 billion people who don’t have access to safe hygienic toilets and sanitation, and how to deal with human waste.

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WSP – What Does It Take to Scale Up Rural Sanitation?

What Does It Take to Scale Up Rural Sanitation? 2012. Water and Sanitation Program.

A new WSP working paper, What Does It Take to Scale Up Rural Sanitation? shares lessons and best practices that were identified to:

• generate demand for sanitation at the household and community level;
• increase the supply of affordable, aspirational sanitation products and services; and
• strengthen local and national governments to lead large-scale sanitation programs.

Over the last 30 years, most rural sanitation projects have had pockets of success, but were small in scale and could not be scaled up. Learning how to expand on the successes of small-scale projects to increase access at large scale has been an enduring challenge. Project outcomes often fail the sustainability test once external funding ceases, and the benefits, even if sustained, remain limited to project areas.

Despite growing political will to do more about rural sanitation, the lack of evidence and examples of effective and sustainable large-scale rural sanitation programs has constrained governments and development partners. In an attempt to help address these issues, starting in 2007, the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) provided technical assistance to help governments design, plan, implement, and monitor national rural sanitation programs that start at scale and are sustainable. This initiative was carried out in three countries, India, Indonesia, and Tanzania. In each country, at scale service delivery was led by governments, communities, and the local private sector.

Key components are introduced and illustrated with examples from the field, including an overview to programmatic approaches that have been combined and tested to create demand, change behaviors, and improve supply chains: Community-Led Total Sanitation, Behavior Change Communication, and Sanitation Marketing. The Working Paper introduces the basic methodology for these approaches, and the roles of national and local government and the local private sector, and discusses strategies to strengthen the enabling environment and build capacity to achieve and sustain improvements in rural sanitation.

Durban to host 2012 World Toilet Summit

South Africa will host the 12th annual World Toilet Summit in Durban from 3-6 December 2012. The South African Toilet Organization (SATO) is co-organsing this annual World Toilet Organization (WTO) event.

The main theme of the Summit is African Sanitation: Scaling Up – Dignity for All.

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India’s Sanitation for All: How to Make It Happen

India-Sanitation-for-All-coverBowyer, J. (2009). India’s sanitation for all : how to make it happen. (Water for all series ; 18). Manila, The Philippines, Asian Development Bank. 24 p.

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Providing environmentally safe sanitation to millions of people is a significant challenge. The task is doubly difficult in a country where the introduction of new technologies can challenge people’s traditions and beliefs.

This report examines the current state of sanitation services in India and offers six recommendations that can help key stakeholders work toward universal sanitation coverage in India: scaling up pro-poor sanitation programs, customizing investments, exploring cost effective options, applying proper planning and sequencing, adopting community-based solutions, and forging innovative partnerships. The recommendations were based largely on an ADB study on household sanitation and drainage in India.

ADB’s empirical study entitled “Sanitation in India: Progress, Differentials, Correlates, and Challenges” (2009) attempts to discern key policy conclusions that could assist India in meeting its set goal of “Sanitation for All” by 2012. It looks at (i) safe disposal of human excreta, as measured by household ownership of a sanitary latrine; and (ii) household access to drainage facilities. It investigates the trends, socio-economic differentials, and correlates of household sanitary latrines from 1992 to 2006, and provides rough cost estimates for universal coverage.


  1. India’s Sanitation for All: How to Make It Happen
  2. Sanitation in India: How Bad is It?
  3. Making Household Sanitation an Investment Priority
  4. Finding Optimal Solutions
  5. Moving Forward

id21 highlights special issue on sanitation


The December 2008 special issue of “id21 highlights” on sanitation was produced by in collaboration with the IDS research and action learning programme, ‘Going to Scale? The Potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation’.

The 4-page issue includes the following items:

  • Zambian villagers meet sanitation goals
  • Useful resources
  • Ending open defecation in Nigeria
  • Scaling up CLTS
  • Community selfmobilisation

Read the full issue here

Visit the project web site here

Ecological sanitation: examples and experiences from India

21 Jan 2008, Source South Asia

Members of the Solutions Exchange Water Community in India were asked to share their experiences in the promotion of ecological sanitation (ecosan). A compilation of responses was produced, including suggestions on how to scale-up ecosan in India.

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