Sustainable Development Goal 6 for water and sanitation calls for the realization of safely
managed sanitation services (SMSS) for everyone by 2030. Safely managed sanitation is defined as use of at least a basic sanitation facility and a handwashing facility with soap and water, which is not shared with other households, and where excreta are treated safely either on-site or off-site.
The concept of safely managed sanitation services is relatively new. All governments and development partners now need to consider how human waste is managed across the entire sanitation service chain: from the use of the toilet (‘user interface’), through containment, emptying, transport and treatment to end use or disposal.
The development of rural SMSS is urgent as the number of ‘open defecation free’ (ODF) areas grows, governments and external support agencies look for viable ‘post-ODF’ strategies, and faecal exposure risks from unsafe excreta management become apparent. While there has been significant research and implementation to improve the sanitation service chain in urban settings, little guidance is available on how to achieve and sustain SMSS in rural contexts.
Working towards the universal use of SMSS also has equity implications, such as ensuring that emptying and disposal options are affordable, the excreta of children is safely managed, the health, safety, and rights of sanitation workers is safeguarded, and negative impacts on disadvantaged and marginalized communities living in areas where unsafe disposal and other unsafe practices take place is prevented.
In 2019, WSSCC commissioned this study to address the above knowledge gap. It examines how and to what extent Global Sanitation Fund (GSF)-supported programmes have been enabling SMSS in rural areas principally using collective behaviour change approaches, such as Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS). The objective of this study is to identify SMSS challenges, capacity gaps, learning needs, and programming recommendations, as well as inform other individuals and organisations working in rural sanitation of the generic SMSS issues and recommendations arising from the study