Sanitation is crucial to global health and yet one third of the world’s population lack access to improved sanitation. Sanitation suffers from neglect at every level: national, local and household, perhaps due to a sense of shame and stigma attached to the issue. This stigma can prevent sanitation from being a high profile political issue.
As the world faces rapid urban growth, local governments worldwide are struggling to provide functional sanitation infrastructure and service provision to their citizens. Mega-cities and small rapidly growing cities in developing countries are most affected by the rampant urbanization. Here urban growth is often unplanned, informal and takes place predominantly in peri-urban areas or at city fringes. The results are a high number of people exposed to severe health and environmental risks because they are not served by the city’s sanitation systems.
Lack of Integrated Solutions
The fundamental and persistent challenges to improving sanitation in developing countries are weak or non-existent policies to guide development, lack of regulations and enforcement, fragmented institutional structures, insufficient human and financial capacity and weak frameworks for business development. Additionally, sanitation is only looked at as the provision of toilets rather than considering the development of the entire sanitation value chain from containment, collection, treatment and disposal or reuse. There are also challenges around operation and maintenance of centralised and decentralised sanitation infrastructures.