19.4.1  General principles

Involve the users in decision making

As you now know, in its broad definition, sanitation doesn’t mean simply latrines; it involves hygiene and environmental behaviour as well. In the past, sanitation interventions used to focus on ‘hardware’ (the construction of latrines and other waste disposal facilities) instead of integrating ‘software’ (hygiene promotion and health behavioural change) components of the programme. This approach has been heavily criticised because it prescribes a single or limited technological option for the user community without involving them in the decision. People who will use the facility need to participate in the planning process, because technological choices that are imposed on them are unlikely to succeed.

Your local community

As a member of your local community, you should consider ways to stimulate and encourage local innovation and enterprise. Technologies that are accepted by people will not only meet their preferences and be affordable but also use the possible mix of local and external materials and skills, ideally emphasising the use of local resources first. Locally sourced technologies are more likely to involve local people in your village in their development, construction, marketing and use.


An important principle of sanitation is that it protects the environment. A sustainable sanitation system will safeguard the environment and be durable, affordable and socially acceptable. When you facilitate the implementation of human waste management, you must make sure that provision of sanitation avoids unacceptable impacts on the environment, especially surface and groundwater resources.

Finding the resources

Installing a sanitation system will require funding and human resources. The sanitation strategy of the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia basically suggests ‘no subsidy’ for household sanitation.

Users or households will need to pay for the installation, operation and maintenance of latrines. However, some organisations such as The World Bank and some NGOs recognise that some people might require some form of support to achieve total sanitation. Targeted subsidies that consider, for example, people with disabilities or old people may be appropriate.

Integration with water supply and hygiene

Sanitation improvement cannot be achieved in isolation; it needs to be integrated with improvements to water supply and hygiene promotion. You should try to make a coordinated effort to combine hygiene and water supply promotion along with that of sanitation, in order to influence the behaviour of individuals and families in your community. You should work together with your local water supply and other related services to achieve better sanitation in your community.

19.4  Choosing appropriate sanitation technologies

19.4.2  Questions to consider