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Sustainable Sanitation

The term “sustainable sanitation” includes Ecological Sanitation or Ecosan and is characterised by the following principles formulated at the meeting of sanitation and hygiene specialists in Bellagio, Italy, on 1-4 February 2000.

  • human dignity, quality of life, and ecological safety on the level of both households and society should be at the heart of any approach to solve problems of sanitation;
  • gender equality should be observed in any decision making and participation of all involved parties should be guaranteed;
  • human waste, such as faeces and urine, should be considered as resources in the circle of nutrients;
  • specific technological solutions of sanitation problems (latrines, waste water collection and treatment) should be designed to the minimum practicable size (e.g. household, neighbourhood)

A toilet had been built right next to a water-well

“Sustaninable Sanitation” technologies are defined as technologies preventing the penetration of untreated human excreta and wastewater into the environment (also known as containment), sanitizing human excreta, and safely reusing the nutrients human excreta contain. Ecological sanitation – or  Ecosan - is best known and most associated with systems separating at the source, such as Urine Diverting Dry Toilets and soilfilters. The WHO has issued “Guidelines on safe use of wastewater, excreta, and greywater”, which provide rules for safely sanitizing and reusing human excreta. Ecological sanitation adheres to these rules.


An old, private toilet in Ukraine, allowing faeces to seep into the
groundwater and not being used for sustainable purposes


In the International Year of Sanitation (2008), an open network on Sustainable Sanitation with currently more than 100 members was formed which encourages demand driven sustainable sanitation solutions and informed choice and develops institutional and human capacity, see www.susana.org.

In several working groups where WECF is active, the members develop material for capacity building.


A newly built eco-san toilet in Ukraine