Last updated: 12 Jun 2018


Source: Cochrane, WHO

Sanitation interventions target the problem of open defecation by providing or promoting new or improved sanitation facilities, or expanding and improving excreta disposal. This includes flush/pour flush toilets, pit latrines, composting toilets, or connections to onsite (e.g. septic tanks) or off-site systems (e.g. sewerage).

Eliminating improper waste disposal is crucial because open defecation contributes to faecal-oral transmissions of diseases like diarrhoea. Better sanitation will also reduce the severity and impact of malnutrition, and the spread of tropical diseases like intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma.


Source: WHO

The simple pit latrine is the cheapest and most basic form of improved sanitation available. It consists of a pit dug into the ground, covered by a hygienic cover slab or floor, with a hole through which excreta fall into the pit. The latrine is situated well away from water sources and some distance from the house. The simple pit latrine has the advantage of being easy and cheap to construct and ensuring excreta are isolated.


Source: UNESCO, IRCwash

Public education is another important way of effective way intervention for improved sanitation in developing nations. According to the World Health Organization, when communities are educated about the link between sanitation, hygiene, health and economic development, they have a higher demand for improved sanitation facilities. Additionally, when children are not sick from consuming contaminated food or water, they are able to attend school more often and focus on their studies.

Since mere construction of toilets does not guarantee sustainable sanitation – sanitation is further supported by elementary health education. Most people, particularly those from lower socio-economic groups, are not aware of health and environmental benefits of improved sanitation, or of the availability of affordable technological options or government efforts and programmes. General awareness and community involvement in social programmes enables the development of self-reliance and confidence in the community resulting in sustainable benefits.

In many communities and schools, public education focuses on the development of life skills and the mobilization and involvement of parents, communities, governments and institutions to work together to improve hygiene, water and sanitation conditions. Some of the interventions in public education include fully integrated life skills education, focusing on key hygiene behaviours for schoolchildren and using participatory teaching techniques. It also includes outreach to families and the wider communities. Through health check-up camps, awareness on family planning services, safe food and drinking water, safe environmental sanitation and health education. Moreover the accessibility of school health programmes to a large proportion of each nation’s population, including staff as well as students, contributes to the low cost of programmes.