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close this bookSanitation Promotion (SIDA - SDC - WSSCC - WHO, 1998, 292 p.)
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View the documentCommonly held wrong assumptions about sanitation - WSSCC Working Group on Promotion of Sanitation
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Commonly held wrong assumptions about sanitation - WSSCC Working Group on Promotion of Sanitation

This list of “commonly held wrong assumptions about sanitation” is offered to provoke thought and challenge all those involved in sanitation, irrespective of the different stages of development that exist worldwide. The list can be a useful tool for promoting sanitation; for example, in meetings where it can be used to stimulate discussion and challenge people to agree or disagree.

Commonly held wrong assumptions

At all levels:

· Improved water supply alone leads to better health. There is no need for sanitation.
· Sanitation improvements have minimal health benefits and no socioeconomic benefits.
· All good sanitation options are expensive and difficult to implement.
· Water, air, and soil are free goods and we should not have to pay for improving them.

At the level of donors and implementing agencies:

· Safe and adequate water supply is a pre-condition for good sanitation.

· Message-giving will change behaviours and automatically create demand.

· Sanitation improvements mean simply building latrines.

· People are not willing to pay for sanitation improvements.

· Design and construction of a latrine is simple and does not require expertise.

· There are standard formulas and quick-fixes for achieving sanitation, which can be universally applied.

· There are two “right” low-cost technologies: VIP latrines and pour-flush latrines.

· Traditional cultural attitudes are a barrier to good sanitation practices.

· Water supply institutions are automatically suitable for developing sanitation.

· The private sector is not interested in sanitation.

· People are not capable of moving fast enough to meet programme goals.

· There is no need for additional specific research since the situation in developing countries today is the same as that of industrialized countries at the beginning of the century. We just apply the same solutions.

At the level of beneficiaries:

· Improved sanitation has no immediate benefits.
· Sanitation systems are never reliable.
· Responsibility for sanitation lies somewhere else.
· Children's faeces are harmless.