Sanitation is the poor relation of basic services: the issue receives far less attention, along with political and financial means, than access to drinking water. And yet, 2.4 billion people in the world do not have access to basic sanitation facilities. Furthermore, local and international action has been particularly focused on rural areas; and therefore the situation regarding urban sanitation is less controlled, which is a major challenge given the exponential rate of urbanization in developing countries.

Key Messages

  • The implementation of technical, commercial and social solutions is not sufficient to put the subject of sanitation in developing cities onto the political agenda. There remains a lack of attractive politico-institutional scenarios to mobilize and guide public decision-making, and to combine technical and economic feasibility, social and public benefits, and institutional arrangements.
  • Designing a quality urban sanitation service requires the integration of many utility providers who offer various services. The role of public authorities in coordinating and regulating these services still needs to be established, specifically for hybrid but integrated urban sanitation systems.
  • Feedback and recommendations on an enabling politico-institutional environment to getting the issue of sanitation onto the political agenda are in their infancy. The link between the conditions for political support and policy instruments has yet to be built.
  • Many questions remain unanswered regarding how to better inform public decision-making, especially in terms of the interests and interactions of the actors in the sector, and the incentives and institutions that should be established to encourage and facilitate their cooperation throughout the chain.
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  • Laure Criqui