Productive Sanitation and the Link to Food Security

April 2012

This factsheet provides information on the link between sanitation and agriculture as well as related implications for health, economy and the environment. It presents examples of treating and using treated excreta and wastewater in a productive way and describes the potential for urban agriculture and resource recovery in rural areas. Institutional and legal aspects, business opportunities and management of associated health risks are also discussed.

Productive sanitation is the term used for the variety of sanitation systems that make productive use of the nutrient, organic matter, water and energy content of human excreta and wastewater in agricultural production and aquaculture. These systems should enable the recovery of resources in household wastewater, minimise consumption and pollution of water resources, support the conservation of soil fertility as well as agricultural productivity, and thereby contribute to strengthening food security and reducing malnutrition.

The implementation and scaling up of productive sanitation systems is inhibited by weak, non-existent or sometimes prohibitive legislation. It is therefore necessary to develop relevant legislation along the sanitation chain taking into consideration the type of crops, occupational health, food hygiene, and other preventive and risk management measures. This requires awareness raising, advocacy and behavioural change by all stakeholders.

Further applied research is also needed to assess risk management options at the interface between agriculture and sanitation to support policy dialogue at the local and national levels.

Additional details

PublisherSustainable Sanitation Alliance
ThemesSanitation value chain, Sustainability and safely managed sanitation
LanguageEnglish

Learn more about SLH Research

We use a range of research approaches, which aim to draw attention to urgent knowledge gaps, blind spots and emerging questions, often at a critical point in time, to support policy-makers, practitioners and partners in navigating and responding swiftly.

SLH Research and Learning