New book supports people-centred solutions on water, sanitation

“Investing in sanitation and hygiene is not only about saving human lives and dignity; it is the foundation for investing in human development, especially in poor urban and peri-urban areas,” explains the foreword to a very useful new publication on sanitation. “However, one of the main bottlenecks encountered the world over, is the limited knowledge and awareness about more appropriate and sustainable systems and technologies that keep project costs affordable and acceptable.”

Until now, such information has been scattered throughout hundreds of books and journals. The “Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies” is a new guidebook produced by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). It is being launched officially this week at the World Toilet Summit and Expo in Macao.

Bringing together and organizing this information in one document makes it easier for everyone – engineers, planners, development agencies, NGOs and donors –to plan effectively for sanitation solutions. By pulling all the information together in one volume, the Compendium aims to promote a systems approach so that sanitation devices and technologies are considered as parts of an entire system.

Although the book is primarily addressed to engineers and planners dealing with infrastructure delivery, the technology sheets also allow non-experts to understand the main advantages and limitations of different technologies and the appropriateness of different system configurations.

In 2005, Sandec and the WSSCC published Provisional Guidelines for Household-centred Environmental Sanitation (HCES), a new planning approach for implementing the Bellagio Principles on Sustainable Sanitation in Urban Environmental Sanitation. The HCES approach emphasizes the participation of all stakeholders – beginning at the household/neighbourhood – in planning and implementing sanitation systems. “It is our hope that this Compendium will allow all stakeholders to be involved in selecting improved sanitation technologies and to help promote people-centred solutions to real sanitation problems.”

A hard copy of the Compendium can be ordered by writing to

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