Case Examples of Sanitation Policy
Updated - Tuesday 28 October 2003
Concerns for national sanitation policies are evident in most countries despite wide variations between countries. It is widely accepted that, without political will, sanitation policies will not be effective. The importance of clearly defined institutional roles and responsibilities is also widely accepted. Other aspects of sanitation policies are country-specific, for example, levels of service, the nature and level of subsidies, or views on what responsibilities should be assigned to different levels of government.
Countries vary greatly in population, level of development, household incomes, availability of water resources, and in many other ways. In large countries such as China, Brazil, India, Indonesia or Nigeria, the role of sub-national government in policy formulation is much greater than in smaller countries. In some countries, state, provincial and local governments play an important policy role and have the resources to plan and implement sanitation programmes.
Few countries have developed specific sanitation policies. Many are undergoing a water supply and sanitation sector reform process, but the majority of these policy and sector reform efforts focus on water supply. Sanitation is often addressed in an ad hoc manner and as an afterthought.
A recently conducted desktop review identified four countries that made substantial progress in developing national sanitation policies. South Africa and Uganda probably offer the best examples of well-written national policies, and both now wrestle with implementation in a decentralised environment. Nepal represents a case probably similar to a number of countries, where sanitation has been singled out as a problem and a focus for attention in key national planning documents but full-policy dialogue and policy implementation has not followed. India has established a national sanitation policy, but implementation is in the hands of the State Governments. So far only two states, Kerala and West Bengal, have established large and innovative programmes.
In all the above cases the major difficulty is in creating an environment in which national policy is implemented at the lowest level of government.
A brief synopsis of each country case follows.