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close this bookSanitation Promotion (SIDA - SDC - WSSCC - WHO, 1998, 292 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentAcronyms
View the documentWelcome
Open this folder and view contentsThe challenge - A sanitation revolution
Open this folder and view contentsGaining political will and partnership
Open this folder and view contentsPromotion through better programmes
Open this folder and view contentsPromotion through innovation
View the documentBibliography
View the documentBack cover



The objective of this book is to help water supply and sanitation professionals and others who care about advancing sanitation to promote it effectively.

What is promotion? Promotion involves all the things one must do to raise or advance a cause, raise the profile and status of the cause, further the growth and expansion of the cause, and to further its popularity. Promotion, in the public health sense of the word, also involves providing the enabling mechanisms to others so that they may take up the cause armed with effective tools. This book has been designed to try and meet this need with regard to the promotion of sanitation.

This is not a press kit or an advocacy kit to be placed directly on the desk of a minister or politician. It is a group of articles and tools to guide the user in promoting sanitation to others and to help the user strengthen his own programme or project so that it will be a showcase example of good practice. It does not provide directly-usable advocacy materials, such as overhead transparencies but does provide enough guidance for the user to make his or her own.

Intended audience

This book has been prepared for policy makers and strategic planners at national, district and municipal levels who are responsible for securing investments for sanitation, and planning, commissioning, monitoring and evaluating sanitation programmes.

Other potential users are external support agencies and nongovernmental organizations that make large investments in sanitation or have a role in providing expertise in sanitation to other large investors. A few items can be used directly at project level by senior field staff to check whether their projects are applying principles of good practice and thus should be successful showcase examples.

Box 1. Intended Audience

- policy makers
- strategic planners
- external support agencies
- nongovernmental organizations
- senior project-level field staff


The idea for this book and its contents were developed by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council Working Group on Promotion of Sanitation, which worked between 1994 and 1997 through periodic meetings and correspondence. During these meetings the Working Group decided that water supply and sanitation professionals need to do at least three things to raise the status and profile of the sector to attract more activity and investments in countries.

· Gain the commitment of politicians and other partners.

· Do showcase programmes and projects as examples of what can be accomplished with the support of these partners.

· Innovate, research and trial new approaches in the field and share these innovations with others. This exchange of ideas and information will greatly stimulate the sector.

This book is designed to meet these three needs. Doing all three will give the greatest boost to sanitation. The articles in the book should be used to make these three things happen.

After a careful review of existing literature on topics identified as important for such a book, it was decided that very little literature existed on how to promote sanitation, and that articles should be produced to assist water supply and sanitation professionals in promotion. Most articles in the book, therefore, are new and unique and were written specifically for promotion. They do not duplicate existing literature on sanitation, however, some articles and checklists, such as on hygiene education and gender, are summaries and overviews to achieve a quick understanding of a complex topic, so that these concepts can be practically applied without pouring through a great deal of literature. A list of references and further reading, is provided for those who would like to read more in depth.


The book focuses exclusively on promotion and does not attempt to give guidance on programming, how to run sanitation institutions or choosing sanitation technologies. There are other recently produced guidance materials on these areas and these are listed in the bibliography. Included is advice on best practices in the form of principles and features of better sanitation programs, a list of some commonly-held wrong assumptions upon which programmes are sometimes based which can lead to failure, and checklists and worksheets based upon what is thought to be state-of-the art in these areas. On the other hand, it is recognized that this is an ever-changing field of work, and that there is no one way or right answer for the wide variety of cultures that need to be served for sanitation. Therefore, these guidance materials should not be viewed as prescriptive but rather only as advisory based on current thinking.

Sanitation involves excreta disposal, water supply, hygiene behaviours, drainage, solid waste, and health care waste. The book pays a great deal of attention to excreta disposal, as it is the major problem in environmental sanitation. However, most of the articles would apply to the entire field of environmental sanitation. The principles and features of better programmes, for example, could apply equally to excreta disposal, solid waste or drainage. The articles on gender and hygiene behaviour change are certainly generic in scope. This book, therefore, should not be viewed as a tool for the promotion of excreta disposal only.

Box 2. What this book is and is not.

This book IS:

- A source of ideas on promotion
- Guidance on “best practices”
- A sharing of innovative approaches
- Tools to strengthen skills in promotion

This book IS NOT:

- Prescriptive
- A press kit
- An advocacy kit
- A sanitation programming guideline
- An overview of sanitation technologies
- A book exclusively on promotion of excreta disposal
- A review of existing sanitation literature
- An endorsement of certain sanitation technologies

Overview and structure

The book is divided into four main parts.

· The challenge - A sanitation revolution
· Gaining political will and partnerships
· Promotion through better programmes
· Promotion through innovation

The Challenge - A sanitation revolution. This part explains the scope of the challenge before us. It contains a statement of the problem and a possible way forward, some commonly held wrong assumptions about sanitation, and research needs.

Gaining political will & partnerships. This part provides ideas on promotional techniques that may be applied to sanitation. The section is divided into two sections, Principles and guidelines and Case studies. The first section explains the major concepts in advocacy, mobilizing the media and mobilizing partners. The second part contains two case studies on how political will and partnerships were achieved in Uganda and India.

Promotion through better programmes. This part is intended to help you strengthen existing sanitation programmes for which you are responsible. We cannot promote sanitation until we can do good programmes and projects as showcase examples. We cannot win the support of politicians and other partners to invest in sanitation until we can prove to them their investments will be well spent and sustainable. This section is not a complete guide to doing better programmes, but rather a focus on strengthening areas known to be commonly weak. The section is not intended to be a programming guideline nor to be comprehensive on every aspect of sanitation programmes. Other literature already exists in these areas and there was no need to duplicate it.

The part begins with Principles which should form the foundation of all good programmes. The principles and other articles in this section were derived from an analysis of good sanitation programmes. They are statements of “best practices.” It then follows with a section on Empowerment which highlights the importance of putting people at the centre of sanitation programmes. Articles focus on gender, hygiene behaviour change, participatory approaches and household financing. These articles reflect the good practice of many of the principles. This part ends with a section on Checklists, derived from principles and the empowerment articles, to help you apply these in a practical way.

Promotion through innovation. This final section illustrates some of the newest innovations that show promise for promotion of sanitation. While there have been many achievements in sanitation over the last thirty years, such as new low cost technologies, and guidelines on hygiene education, communications and gender considerations, we need to continue to search for new ways and to innovate. Research, field trials and the sharing of results should be a never-ending process.

The section is divided into three sections: Child-centred approaches, Participatory approaches, and Innovative technologies.

A book on sanitation promotion would be incomplete if it did not address the role of technologies in the advancement of sanitation. Some of the barriers to achieving better coverage have to do with cost, lack of sufficient water supply for flushing and transport, concern over water pollution, and an inability to dig or construct in certain physical conditions. These barriers, as well as a growing movement to recycle nutrients back into soil, has stimulated research and trials into new and innovative sanitation technologies. Most of these technologies have an ecological focus and are provided here in the hope of stimulating even more research and innovation. Most of the case studies on technologies also describe how they were promoted in the context in which they were trialed and many valuable lessons on promotion are drawn.

The technologies described in this book are not necessarily endorsed by the World Health Organization nor is their inclusion intended to suggest that these are the only acceptable technologies for the future.

How to use this book

Sanitation Promotion is intended to be used as a “pick-and-choose” book. You do not need to read the entire book, or read from front to back to benefit from it. Use the table of contents to determine what interests you and your programme. The articles, worksheets and checklists may be photocopied and passed along to others. The contents may also be used for training courses and sanitation promotion workshops. You may use the book as a model to create you own local sanitation promotion book. To do so, you may wish to translate articles into a local language, to scale down the language to a simpler level, to format it with larger font and more illustrations and to pick and choose articles relevant to your situation. For your local book, you may wish to commission promotional articles such as an article on winning the support of local politicians using country-specific statistics, articles on innovative promotional techniques and showcase sanitation projects. The more you localize your promotion book, the more people will notice it and relate to it.

Box 3. How to USE this book:

· Pick and choose articles that suit your needs
· Photocopy and share articles
· Discuss and debate issues raised in the articles
· Use articles for sanitation training courses
· Use articles for sanitation promotion workshops
· Try the worksheets and checklists
· As a model to make your own local promotion book

Pick and choose, photocopy, share, discuss and debate. These are the main things you should do with the contents of this book. Then decide what to do on your own to promote sanitation. This book is a first step, a source of ideas for the promotion of sanitation. It is certainly not the last word on sanitation promotion. However, it will be up to you whether the ideas in this book are actually applied in your own country or local area.

May ling Simpson-Hrt

Sara Wood


Communications Consultant

Promotion of Sanitation Working Group

Water, Sanitation and Health Unit

Water, Sanitation and Health Unit

World Health Organization

World Health Organization

Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, Switzerland