Water Currents: World Toilet Day 2018

Workers in Makassar, Indonesia, perform a scheduled desludging of a local wastewater containment system. USAID’s IUWASH project helped make the service possible. Photo credit: Yusuf Ahmad/USAID IUWASH SSEI

Water Currents is produced biweekly by USAID’s E3 Water Office. Each issue contains recent news and articles on water sector issues, partner and donor updates, latest sector research, and a special focus on one topic. Please provide your feedback and suggestions by contacting the waterteam@usaid.gov.

On Monday, November 19, join USAID and its partners around the globe in celebrating World Toilet Day to help bring attention to the roughly 4.5 billion people without access to safely managed sanitation. Now in its 17th year, World Toilet Day (WTD) inspires action to tackle global sanitation challenges through improving sanitation facilities and services, strengthening the effectiveness and financial sustainability of wastewater management utilities, and raising public awareness about the health benefits of eliminating open defecation.

Increasing access to safe, sustainable sanitation is a key objective of USAID’s Water and Development Plan, as well as the broader U.S. Government Global Water Strategy. This issue of Water Currents highlights some of the USAID-funded research and activities that help to fulfill that goal, along with studies and resources on the WTD 2018 theme, nature-based sanitation solutions. The issue also includes recent sanitation-related reports and studies from IRC, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, and others.

You can help spread the word by forwarding this issue to your friends and colleagues. And let @USAIDWater know how you are celebrating #WorldToiletDay.


Water Currents - In Focus


World Toilet Day 2018 – The official WTD 2018 site includes a factsheet, posters, a WASH guide, an event listing, stories, and other materials. It also includes information on the 2018 theme, nature-based solutions (NBS) to the sanitation and water crisis.

Toilet Board Coalition Virtual World Toilet Week, November 19-21, 2018 – This virtual summit focuses on the latest business solutions addressing the global sanitation crisis and the many opportunities within the sanitation economy. The summit consists of virtual panels with speakers from a variety of organizations.

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) World Toilet Day Champion Challenge – WSSCC is organizing a photo contest called the “World Toilet Day Champion Challenge,” to showcase the diverse and meaningful work that WSSCC members are doing to engage their communities and raise awareness on sanitation-related issues.

5th International Faecal Sludge Management Conference, February 17-22, 2019, Cape Town, South Africa – This conference will focus on practical solutions to sustainably manage the whole nonsewered sanitation service chain as an essential component of citywide urban sanitation services, covering the toilet, containment, emptying, transport, treatment, and reuse.
Reports, Webinars, Blog Posts

Nature-Based Sanitation Solutions
Constructed WetlandsGlobal Water Pathogen Project, November 2018. Constructed wetlands are a sanitation technology that uses the natural removal mechanisms of plant vegetation, soil, and associated microbial populations. This report discusses three types of constructed wetlands: horizontal subsurface flow, horizontal free water surface flow, and vertical flow.

Sustainable Management and Successful Application of Constructed Wetlands: A Critical ReviewSustainability, October 2018. Constructed wetlands are affordable and reliable green technologies for the treatment of various types of wastewater. This study collects and presents results of more than 120 case studies from around the world, providing a tool for researchers and decision-makers interested in using constructed wetlands to treat wastewater in a particular area.

Innovative Sanitation Approaches Could Address Multiple Development ChallengesWater Science and Technology, February 2018. A paradigm shift to “treatment for reuse” instead of “treatment for disposal” is taking place in the sanitation sector. This article identifies the need for a better understanding of enabling environments and new organizational models based on more service-oriented sanitation provision.

Financing Sanitation
Public Finance at Scale for Rural Sanitation: A Case of Swachh Bharat Mission, IndiaJournal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, September 2018. This paper concludes that the Swachh Bharat Mission program must supplement public finance with innovative financing to achieve open-defecation free status and to ensure sustainability of the program.

Comparing the Costs of Different Urban Sanitation Solutions in Developing Cities in Africa and AsiaWater and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), February 2018. WSUP produced a literature review that explored the costs of various sanitation technologies. This policy brief summarizes the results.

Making the Chain More Fluid with Sustainable Sanitation FinancingIRC Blog, October 2018. In this Q&A, Toilet Board Coalition Executive Director Cheryl Hicks talks about attracting alternative finance into the sanitation chain.

Health/Hygiene and Sanitation
Female-Friendly Public and Community Toilets: A Guide for Planners and Decision MakersWaterAidWSUPUNICEF, October 2018. The guide explains why toilets must be female-friendly before detailing the essential and desirable features needed to make them so. It also suggests ways to increase gender sensitivity in town planning on sanitation.

Providing Sustainable Sanitation Services for All in WASH Interventions Through a Menstrual Hygiene Management ApproachWorld Bank, March 2017. A gender-inclusive approach to sanitation through menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is needed to ensure that the benefits of sanitation and hygiene are truly universal. This brief discusses the value of working through WASH interventions to integrate the key pillars of MHM.

Smart Sanitation Safeguards Our CitiesToilet Board Coalition (TBC), July 2018. A smart sanitation system is one that is equipped with health sensors, syncs with the cloud, and integrates with powerful analytical tools. One such example is a smart toilet, which offers a number of advantages such as a continuous stream of health data.

Life Without Toilets: The Photographer Tackling a Global TabooThe Guardian, March 2018. Andrea Bruce’s prize-winning images from India, Haiti, and Vietnam document the deeply sensitive issue of open defecation, which affects 1.1 billion of the world’s poorest people.

Community Hygiene Norm Violators are Consistently Stigmatized: Evidence from Four Global Sites and Implications for Sanitation InterventionsSocial Science & Medicine, October 2018. This study concludes that disgust- and shame-based sanitation interventions create unintended social damage.

Sanitation Policy
How Can Sanitation Policy Deliver in Africa? Insights from Rwanda and UgandaStockholm Environment Institute, August 2018. Because multilateral organizations and others set the sanitation agenda and promote and finance different approaches (e.g., community-led total sanitation in Uganda and community health clubs in Rwanda), national governments come to depend on external funding. The lack of national ownership and follow-up of programs, particularly when external funding ends, mean that programs are often unsustainable.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and SanitationUnited Nations, October 2018. On October 19, the UN Rapporteur addressed the UN General Assembly on this report of the human rights of water and sanitation, focusing on the principle of accountability to ensure those rights.

Sanitation Entrepreneurs
Bill Gates Launches Reinvented Toilet Expo Showcasing New Pathogen-Killing Sanitation Products That Don’t Require Sewers or Water LinesGates Foundation, November 2018. The recent Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing showcased radically new, decentralized sanitation technologies and products that are business-ready.

Introducing the Sanitation EconomyTBC, November 2017. The sanitation economy offers new ways of looking at sanitation systems: as a solution provider for sectors and governments facing constraints on essential resources; as a reservoir of information about human health and behavior; and as a test bed for innovation and new technologies that reinvent the toilet and its ecosystems.

The Circular Sanitation Economy: New Pathways to Commercial and Societal BenefitsTBC, November 2017. This report discusses the commercial advantages, viability, and potential of circular sanitation in which waste management connects to the biocycle and creates value-added products. A key finding is that circular sanitation business models can be profitable at scale and operate at lower cost than traditional sanitation systems.

The Smart Sanitation EconomyTBC, November 2017. This video provides an introduction to digitized sanitation systems that optimize data for operating efficiencies as well as providing consumer use and health information insights.

Resource Recovery from Waste: Business Models for Energy, Nutrient and Water Reuse in Low- and Middle-Income CountriesInternational Water Management Institute, June 2018. This report provides a compendium of business options for energy, nutrients, and water recovery via 24 innovative business models based on an in-depth analysis of more than 60 empirical cases.

Waste to Energy: An Interview with Award Winning Entrepreneur Eelco Osse on Zero Waste InnovationIRC, October 2018. Eelco Osse discusses two technologies that convert fecal and agricultural wastes into biofuel as possible “zero-waste solutions” to sanitation.
Socio-Cultural Considerations
Innovations for Urban Sanitation: Adapting Community-Led ApproachesPractical Action, June 2018. This manual offers a set of approaches, tools, and tactics for practitioners to move toward safely managed sanitation services. The book provides examples of towns and cities in Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia that have used these approaches.

Importance of Triggers and Veto-Barriers for the Implementation of Sanitation in Informal Peri-Urban Settlements: The Case of Cochabamba, BoliviaPLoS One, April 2018. This study analyzes the adoption mechanisms for improved sanitation. The researchers selected an informal peri-urban settlement in Cochabamba, Bolivia, as a case study to understand adoption patterns in an effort to understand what constitutes sanitation demand and accelerate the spread of improved sanitation.

Other Publications/Resources
Reinvented Toilet Expo Social Media ToolkitGates Foundation, November 2018. This toolkit provides photos and videos from the recent Expo, an event aimed at accelerating the commercialization and adoption of innovative, nonsewered sanitation approaches.

Toward a Hygienic Environment for Infants and Young Children: A Review of the LiteratureUSAID WASHPaLS, February 2018. This report synthesizes the latest understanding of key pathways of fecal microbe ingestion by infants and young children and their links to diarrhea and other health issues. Watch a webinar presentation or read a blog to learn more about the key findings from the report.

Scaling Market-Based Sanitation: Desk Review on Market-Based Rural Sanitation Development ProgramsUSAID WASHPaLS, June 2018. The WASHPaLS project investigates the current state of knowledge in market-based sanitation and establishes a framework to analyze, design, and improve these interventions. Watch a webinar presentation or read a blog to learn more about the key findings from the report.

An Examination of CLTS’s Contributions Toward Universal SanitationUSAID WASHPaLS, April 2018. WASHPaLS offers a history of community-led total sanitation (CLTS) and looks at the impact of CLTS interventions in this literature review. Watch a webinar presentation or read a blog to learn more about the key findings from the report.

Faecal Sludge and Septage Treatment: A Guide for Low- and Middle-Income CountriesPractical Action, August 2018. This manual discusses the urban contexts that influence treatment requirements and overall septage treatment processes. It examines the options and design approaches at each stage of treatment and reuse, either in agriculture or as fuel.

A Journey of Institutional Change: Extending Water Services to Nairobi’s Informal SettlementsWater and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, October 2018. The Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company implemented a set of structural reforms, strategies, and service delivery approaches to extend services to the informal settlements of Nairobi. This brief sets out the process of institutional change undergone by the utility.

Compendium of Sanitation Technologies in EmergenciesGerman WASH NetworkEAWAG, 2018. This comprehensive guide for sanitation solutions in emergency settings provides a systematic overview of existing and emerging sanitation technologies appropriate for use in humanitarian emergency settings along the entire sanitation service chain.


Globalwaters.org – Globalwaters.org is a global knowledge resource for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working in the international development water sector.

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) – SuSanA is an informal network of people and organizations who want to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 6 and other development goals. The SuSanA website—with its library, project database, and discussion forum—is an important resource for anyone wanting to explore the possibilities of sustainable sanitation.

Toilet Board Coalition  – Founded in 2014, TBC is a unique business-led partnership to address the global sanitation crisis by accelerating the sanitation economy. TBC runs the Toilet Accelerator, the world’s first accelerator program dedicated to sanitation entrepreneurs in low-income markets.

Community-Led Total Sanitation – The CLTS website is a global hub connecting the network of practitioners, communities, NGOs, agencies, researchers, governments, donors, and others involved or interested in CLTS.


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