How and Why Countries are Changing to Reach Universal Access in Rural Sanitation by 2030


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The proposed WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) WASH Post 2015 goals for sanitation calls for universal access to basic improved sanitation – by the year 2030. Using largely small scale project approaches that have failed to deliver sustainable sanitation service delivery – especially for the poor -- most countries have not yet achieved the more modest MDG sanitation goals. However, many countries have already started working to achieve the goal of universal access by taking steps to make the transformational changes needed to stop doing “business as usual” in their sanitation programs.

At the recent High Level Meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership – attended by 20 ministers of finance and 35 ministers responsible for water and sanitation representing 43 countries --  over half of the countries set out a vision to achieve universal access to sanitation by or before 2030, 22 countries aim to eliminate open defecation by or before 2030 and, two-thirds of the countries made specific commitments relating to the elimination of inequalities. Countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Laos, India, Ethiopia and Indonesia are making changes in policies, institutional roles, financing approaches, programmatic approaches, and strengthening the implementation capacity of local governments.

Providing access to basic sanitation for everyone is a daunting challenge. Universal access using "business as usual" approaches will not be achieved until about 2063. In order to reach universal access globally by 2030,  the global community will need to increase access by about 2% per year resulting in 216 million additional people a year gaining (and using) access to basic improved sanitation.
Visit the interactive map to view
sanitation access by country.
(Note: You will need to switch 
the indicator located below the map
from "water" to "sanitation")
On a country level example, Tanzania is currently increasing access to basic improved sanitation by 400,000 people per year and will need 3.7 million extra people per year to gain access and use latrines to reach the 2030 target.

So what are countries doing? Building on evidence from at-scale pilots that serve as policy learning laboratories, governments are establishing a shared vision and strategy for rural sanitation among key government and development partner stakeholders and are creating high level political will at national and regional levels. Governments are developing rural sanitation policies that define a set of procedures, rules, and allocation mechanisms to provide the basis for a national rural sanitation program. Increasingly, these policies are being reflected in laws and regulations, economic incentives, and the assignment of rights and responsibilities for a rural sanitation program implementation. Governments are  partnering with the private sector to increase the availability of sanitation products and services that respond to consumer preferences and their willingness and ability to pay for them and are also working to improve the adequacy of arrangements for financing the programmatic costs. Governments are also strengthening their capacity to track implementation and results to be able to make adjustments in a national rural sanitation program.
Success with Sanitation Business in Indonesia
Indonesia is a good example. The operational guideline for the Community-Led Total Sanitation Strategy (STBM) was legalized this year under a Minister of Health Regulation. The guideline provides the necessary operational details for the MoH Decree on the STBM strategy issued in 2008. Strategic plan/polices to implement the shared vision were formalized as the national approach by Government and subsequently adopted by key development partner projects (including the World Bank). The MoH has accredited the curriculum and modules for community-led total sanitation (CLTS) and sanitation marketing. To ensure quality of training, successful participants are awarded 1 credit point which counts towards their performance as part of the staff and career performance assessment.

In Tanzania, one of the key interventions through which the government of Tanzania is expected to achieve its sanitation vision and targets is the National Sanitation Campaign (NSC).  The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare coordinates the implementation of the National Sanitation Campaign with funding from the Water Sector Development Program.  There have also been efforts to further strengthen and sustain the NSC structure by establishing linkages to other sectors experts and also getting the Ministry of Health to dedicate a budget line for community sanitation. The Water Basket is the main financing mechanism for community sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania. In the Water Basket, there is a clear budget line for sanitation.

In Kenya, following the April 2013 elections the country moved to a devolved system of Government in line with a new constitution which meant that the new structure of 47 counties became responsible for sanitation. Sanitation marketing is being included in the revised national policy and strategy to build on existing CLTS strategies, and a national improved sanitation campaign has been developed and launched. Based on formative research new products have been designed which meet consumer preferences as well as being affordable.  Two private sector plastics manufacturers have launched a new range of plastic sanitation slabs. Some counties have found innovative ways to fund sanitation e.g. through money collected from environmental health licenses and fines and have been able to significantly increase the allocation of their budget for sanitation than in previous years.

There are an increasing number of countries that are making similar transformational changes.  Collectively, these changes are beginning to “bend the arc of history” of failed services delivery and emerging national level rural sanitation service delivery programs have started to significantly increase the rate of increase in sanitation access for rural households and reach universal access for all families living in rural areas.


Eddy Perez

Lead Sanitation Specialist, Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank

Join the Conversation

Jonnalagadda Murty
July 09, 2014

Thanks Eddy. Good update on what is happening globally on rural sanitation. Hope to see these ideas getting translated into effective action, soon.

Ross Bailey
July 14, 2014

Thanks for referencing WaterAid's map Eddy. My colleagues and I worked on this recently and it's fantastic to see it being used in work like this.
For anyone reading, please don't hesitate to make use of the map at (easy to embed and code available on GitHub).
Ross Bailey
Campaigns officer

Juan Ossa
July 27, 2014

Dear Eddy
This is an interesting post as it gives some relevant examples in how to change the traditional view of doing "business as usual". The case study of Tanzania shows how big the challenge is for this kind of countries, which will require to increase the rate of new people with sanitation services by almost 10 times to achieve goals by 2030.
Nevertheless, I was wondering if these calculations include estimations of the negative effects of changes in climate and the implication in the hydrological cycle worldwide. It is likely that these changes will make it more difficult to give proper sanitation to new people, and could even affect current sanitation systems, making that people that managed to develop sanitation in their communities go back to the group of people without it.
Are you including this in your calculations?
Best Regards
Juan Ossa

Nripendra Kumar Sarma
July 14, 2014

Dear All,
Issues related to Safe Water and Sanitation, simply do not have the same resonance during implementation and the situation becomes more worse prominently under Sanitation Sector. I am very sorry that even after a long association with the works under rural Sanitation Sector in Assam, which is one of the North Eastern States in India, I don’t feel comfortable with the PACE and Achievement of our works. I really consider it as our failure that we could not create the enabling environment to find a better and committed workforce to work relentlessly for the Rural Sanitation. Even, the necessary support is also missing from all fronts to endorse "WASH for All :: All for WASH". There are some stakeholders, who agree to accept the declaration "WASH for ALL". But when their turn comes to deliver, they just ignore "All for WASH".
As per the field situation in Assam (India), Open Defecation is not that prevalent in Rural Areas. Rather, there is a large scale practice of using Toilet; but unfortunately they are mostly Insanitary Latrines [ called as ‘Kuchcha Latrine’ in Assam (India) ] and the condition of such ‘Kuchcha Latrine’ is as follows :
(i) Different forms are used as Pan, but without having any Water Seal in the form of Trap.
(ii) The excreta is transferred in most cases to an earthen pit ( either offset or onset type ). The offset pits are often covered with some locally available materials ( over which, sometimes an earth layer is also placed ). Once the pit gets filled up, a new pit is dug out for using as a pit and the filled pit is just abandoned. ( Photographs of different types of such Insanitary ( Kuchcha ) Latrines, as collected from field, may be shared, if necessary ).
(iii) In some cases, excreta is transferred to uncovered pit also.
(iv) In very few places, excreta is left open eventually to be serviced by domestic animals.
Now the main challenge in our Rural Areas of our State, is the conversion of such Insanitary Latrines into a Sanitary Latrines. So our focus remains not just to ensure use of Toilet, but to convince people to use SANITARY TOILET. Because, people remains complacent about their use of Toilet and the type of Toilet ( whether Sanitary or Insanitary ) is least bothered.
Another important aspect is the inter-sectoral convergence. For example, the Stakeholders working in the Nutrition Sector should not consider only about the Food and their respective calorific value, but also about the importance of WASH practices to get maximum out of such calorific food values. As an instance, Mid-day Meal Programme is sponsored by Government in Schools keeping in view of importance on Nutrition, but the conditions in the schools, arising out of absence of an well maintained WASH facilities or the Hand Washing practices, should also not be ignored, which may eventually hamper the desired impacts.
Some of the biggest challenges in my state are as follows:
A. Sanitation & Hygiene Sector -
(a) Absence of massive Approach with adequate thrust.
(b) Absence of dedication / community orientation among the implementation stakeholders.
(b) Lacking in the convergent activities making the whole approach much diverse.
(c) Lack of political WILL and SUPPORT to prioritise the thrust oriented activities.
B. Water Sector-
(i) Absence of focus oriented thrust from the implementation stakeholder.
(ii) Absence of control over pollutants / contaminants.
(iii) Absence of users friendly options to take care of chemical contaminants.
(iv) Lacking in the convergent activities among the line Deapartments.
(v) Impacts of regions specific Climate Change.
(vi) Non-existence of Regional Task Force for authoritative Implementation and Monitoring.
Considering the UN resolution declaring the Access to Water and Sanitation as Human Right, the WASH activities should be included as Individual Goal, unlike that included as a part of Goal No-7 ( Environmental Sustainability ) in earlier MDGs. It has already been established that improved WASH activities are the prime need in all fronts including Household and Community level to create far reaching impacts on HUMAN health.
WASH based approach for sustained infrastructure and Usage should be a new Goal with renewed focus on the following :
(a) Water Safety and Security including Water Quality Monitoring and necessary precautionary / remediation measures.
(b) Prioritising water scarce / quality affected regions.
(c) The basic thrust needs to focus on Awareness and Social Norms on the importance of a Sanitary Toilet at every household levels.
(d) Robust Monitoring mechanism for use and maintenance of Sanitation facilities to address bottlenecks leading to slipping back from coverage pattern.
(e) Total Environmental Sanitation including the proper Solid and Liquid Waste Management activities.
(f) Facilitating Operation and Maintenance for WASH infrastructures in households as well as Institutions like, Schools, Anganwadi Centres, Community oriented facilities etc. eventually to ensure sustainability.
(g) Institutionalised approach for capacity development to establish social equity / norms for the all round development of the communities with special thrust for the marginalised sections.
(h) Massive approach on Hygienic practices for personal / food Hygiene.
(i) Aiming at meaningful and participatory involvement of all stakeholders to ensure eventual effectiveness of WASH activities.
(j) Necessary efforts / thrust oriented action plan during EMERGENCY SITUATION causing large scale displacement of human habitat. Adequate WASH activities must be prioritised for such displaced population.
(k) Impacts of regions specific Climate Change
(l) Establishment of Regional Task Force for Implementation and Monitoring.
(m) Lastly and not the least, the political WILL and SUPPORT for establishing the desired mandate.
So there is a NEED of a specific Approach in this regard to ensure 100% ACCESS to Sanitary Toilet and also for sustained Drinking Water Security ( Availability, Accessibility and Adequacy ) for ALL.
The CALL to the Nations is to adopt region / state specific POLICY / Agenda for all of the abovesaid approaches to address the issue of Well-being of Mankind and the Environmental Sustainability.
So let us pledge - "WASH for ALL :: All for WASH".
Thanking you.
With Regards.
Nripendra Kumar Sarma
Nagaon, Assam, India

Gem Riverside
March 29, 2018

Everything is very open with a clear description of the
challenges. It was truly informative. Your website is useful.
Many thanks for sharing!