More than 2.4 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation and are forced to dispose of their excreta in unimproved and unsanitary conditions. Sanitation is a critical intervention needed to reduce or prevent diarrhoea and other seriously debilitating conditions, especially among children. The absence of supportive policies to provide the basis for planning and implementing sanitation programmes is a missing link to improving coverage at a large scale. This Thematic Overview Paper (TOP) focuses on policies designed and implemented to effectively close this gap.
The starting point for this TOP is the demonstrable reality that, despite the best efforts of the global water sector over several decades, a major part of the developing world continues to lack adequate sanitation.This failure, say the authors, stems from shortcomings at the national policy level. Often there has been no national sanitation policy and in other instances a declared policy has been unclear, or even contradictory, in its aims and objectives.Without a sound national policy there is no focus for the planning of sanitation programmes and no sure basis for developing the multi-layered organisational structures needed to devolve responsibility for sanitation down to lower levels of government.