Department Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development

Quality Indicators of Shared Sanitation (QUISS)

Child in Nairobi Slum
Child in Nairobi Slum (Foto: Linda Strande, Eawag)


Identifying criteria to assess quality levels of shared sanitation facilities

Many slum-dwellers in Africa and South Asia live in dwellings with insufficient space for a toilet. For such people, shared sanitation facilities (SSF) are the only viable sanitation option. Yet, according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), SSF are to be considered at best a “limited” solution and cannot be included within the acceptable category of “basic” sanitation.

There is a risk that JMP’s exclusion of shared sanitation facilities from the “basic” category, however, may perversely incentivise donor agencies and governments not to allocate resources to sanitation in informal settlements. And this exclusion overlooks the reality that, despite the difficulties of monitoring shared toilets, many are hygienic, accessible and safe. Conversely, because there is no clear definition of high-quality shared sanitation (no “minimum standard”), this can encourage some players to construct/promote/allow shared facilities of clearly inadequate quality.  The QUISS project is developing the indicators required to identify the characteristics of shared toilets that are properly maintained.

Figure 1: What are essential indicators that allow to differentiate between shared toilets that are hygienic, accessible and safe (left), and such that are poorly designed and managed (right)?
Figure 2: Frequency of toilet technologies in use by country according to JMP categories.
Figure 3: General problems by country Shows problems as perceived by the SSF users.

The QUISS project is commissioned under WSUP’s (Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor) Urban Sanitation Research Initiative. Based on an extensive quantitative survey of SSF and their users across cities in Bangladesh, Ghana and Kenya, as well as qualitative studies, this research aims to identify key criteria of what constitutes “high quality” SSF in urban contexts. By combining observable indicators of quality and quantifiable indicators of user perceptions through 1200 extensive user surveys including 600 to 800 spot-check observations of SSF per country, we aim to identify the determinants of quality facilities. Finally, we aim to identify robust proxy indicators that will enable monitoring protocols to easily distinguish between high- and low-quality shared sanitation.