Citywide Inclusive Sanitation

By Abishek S Narayan

Over the course of 2019, there were two fieldwork missions carried out as part of the PhD research on planning Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) in India. CWIS is a paradigm shift in the approach to urban sanitation, with emphasis on the equitable and safe management of the whole sanitation value chain by using both networked and non-networked sanitation systems. This research on planning aims to develop a new methodology for achieving the ambitious targets of CWIS, which are aligned with the SDG 6.2 targets on universal sanitation.

As a first step towards rooting the research in relevant case studies, the key was to understand the current sanitation planning practices in four cities in India – Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore and Coimbatore – and to analyse the key factors that lead to success and failures of sanitation provision at a city level and beyond.In order to collect qualitative and quantitative data for this mixed methods study, in these fieldtrips we carried out extensive data collection for developing Shit Flow Diagrams (SFDs), Social Network Analysis, Policy Analysis and Workshops. These activities engaged over 100 key stakeholders in the sanitation sector at city, state and national levels of government as well as academic, non-governmental, international development, and civic action agencies.

This work informs the Wings program about the latest developments in sanitation planning approaches from the international development community, which is strongly realigning its strategies with CWIS. There is a close relation with the Wings pillars of ‘Informal’ and ‘Hybrid’, where the agenda also feeds into the development of the CWIS research at Eawag. The upcoming steps for the PhD project summarize the current state of sanitation planning in India and develop a planning methodology aimed at operationalizing the CWIS principles and overcoming the limitations of the existing planning methodologies.

Read more about the methodology of SNA for WASH in the Indian context.

Key insights

  • Although the need for non-grid solutions are widely recognized, most city managers favor sewers.
  • Strong policies and narratives exist in India that enable implementation of sanitation solutions, but lack of localized planning puts long-term sustainability at risk.
  • Community engagement is a key requirement for contextualized solutions, but extremely hard to operationalize meaningfully in top-down rational planning.


Narayan, A. S.; Fischer, M.; Lüthi, C. (2020) Social network analysis for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH): application in governance of decentralized wastewater treatment in India using a novel validation methodology, Frontiers in Environmental Science, 7, 198 (18 pp.), doi:10.3389/fenvs.2019.00198, Institutional Repository

Project Website

The aim of CWIS research is to develop a method that synthesizes existing information about the sanitation landscapes of cities in India and that presents comprehensive sanitation solutions.