Sanitation partnerships

Extending the ladder downwards

“Sanitation ladders” have been widely used to show how households can upgrade over time from basic latrines to improved versions, then to an indoor toilet and possibly a sewerage connection.  Yet the work in very poor and crowded urban contexts suggested that at least two rungs need to be added to the bottom of many ladders.  The first rung down from an individual household service is a ‘shared latrine’ – such as the many latrines that are shared by tenants in block houses across Africa.  The rung below this is a communal toilet block – whose access may be open to all (as for a public toilet) or restricted to a certain community.


Although these facilities are commonplace throughout African cities, it is very rare that sanitation improvement plans explicitly consider what level of service or facility is the most appropriate, or what combination of approaches would prove most effective.  Importantly these decisions are not just technical (indeed the technology of a shared toilet or household latrine is almost identical).  Each rung strikes a very different balance between three important stakeholders: the householder themselves, the service provider (public agency, private company, or community based organisation) and the public sector (often the local municipality).  The means by which each is financed differs, as do the options they open up for health and hygiene education.  Demand amongst residents for the facilities varies, as do options for pit emptying and treatment of the waste.


For more on household facilities, shared facilities and communal facilities, and their implications for partnership approaches, please see section two of the following document: 

Sanitation partnerships: harnessing their potential for urban on-site sanitation (pdf)