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< prev - next > Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment (Printable PDF)
18 Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment
Planning for sanitation
Every person and every
community has a way of dealing
with sanitation, even if it just
means that people go into the
bush to urinate and defecate.
Households and communities
can benefit from talking about the
sanitation methods that will work
best for everyone.
Healthy sanitation must
consider the needs of children,
who cannot take care of
themselves. It must also ensure
that women have toilets that they
feel safe using and a way to keep
clean during monthly bleeding.
A sanitation plan that leaves women, or any other
group, without toilets will not prevent illness
in the community.
Small steps to sustainable sanitation
In any community — and even in a single household — there may be several
sanitation methods in use at one time. Some people may want to change the way they
take care of their sanitation needs, while others may not. Whether it means building a
new kind of toilet, helping to meet the needs of those without access to safe toilets, or
some other kind of change, almost every sanitation method can be improved.
Small, step-by-step changes are easier than big changes all at once. Examples of
small changes that can have a big impact on health, safety, and comfort are:
• keeping wash water and soap near the toilet
• adding a vent to a pit toilet
• adding a hard, durable platform to an open pit
When planning or making changes in household or community sanitation, keep in
mind that every sanitation method should do these things:
Prevent disease – it should keep disease-carrying waste and insects away from
people, both at the site of the toilet and in nearby homes.
Protect water supplies – it should not pollute drinking water, surface water, or
Protect the environment – ecological sanitation can prevent pollution, return
nutrients to the soil, and conserve water. ( To learn more about ecological
sanitation, see pages 33 to 43.)
Be simple and affordable – it should fit local people’s needs and abilities, and
be easy to clean and maintain.
Be culturally acceptable – it should fit local customs, beliefs, and desires.
Work for everyone – it should address the health needs of children and adults,
of women and men.