Open Planning of Sanitation Systems

Compiled by:
Juri Lienert (seecon international gmbh)
Adapted from:
KVARNSTROEM, E.; AF PETERSENS, E. (2004)

Executive Summary

The objective of the Open Planning of Sanitation Systems (OPSS) approach is to provide a practical guideline for the planning and implementation of sanitation projects based on sanitation system function requirements rather than technologies. This shall improve the sustainability of sanitation systems. Sanitation systems can be regarded as sustainable if they protect and promote human health, do not contribute to environmental degradation or depletion of the resource base, and are technically and institutionally appropriate, economically viable and socially acceptable – furthermore, they also have to remain functioning over time. The OPSS planning process itself is performed in five steps that are briefly explained below. The planning and implementation tool is based on the Open Comparative Consequence Analysis (OCCA) methodology that has been developed in Sweden by WRS Uppsala AB. The approach itself was established by EcoSanRes.

The Open Comparative Consequence Analysis

As described above, the planning tool of the Open Planning of Sanitation Systems framework is based on the OCCA. Fundamental to OCCA planning is the recognition that the desired result (sustainable household sanitation) can be achieved by the utilisation of different sanitation technologies. Ultimately, all factors influencing the sustainability of a sanitation system, such as local conditions, applicable regulations and user preference must guide the choice of a sanitation solution. This will ensure that the system most appropriate and sustainable for a specific community and its economic and environmental situation is selected. This approach also allows the promotion of new and innovative sanitation techniques, which is in accordance with the best available technique) principle that is a part of the environmental legislation in many countries. The OCCA concept is based on the establishment of a set of criteria describing the function requirements or targets to be achieved by a sanitation system. These criteria are context-specific and are identified in cooperation with relevant stakeholders.

Involving the Stakeholders and Users

In order to achieve a well-functioning system, it is important to involve the users and other relevant stakeholders from the start. The probability of success will increase if the future users are planning participants and are given a sense of ownership of the project. Accordingly, stakeholder participation is a vital part of the framework determining the success of a sustainable sanitation planning process.

The Planning Tool – The Five Steps

 

(1) Step one, the problem identification is an important component of successful project planning. If problems and their causes are not identified, the project is likely to fail. The use of the logical framework approach (LFA) or PHAST (Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation) is recommended. Both strategies contain tools for problem identification and allow stakeholder participation.

 

(2) Step two, the identification of the baseline or boundary condition assesses the conditions for the project. Subjects to be addressed can include geographic limits, socio-economic patterns, cultural habits, system financing, legal frameworks, natural environmental conditions or the present infrastructure. The proposed sanitation system needs to be defined with these key questions: where does the system begin and end? Does it include all wastewater fractions of the household?

 

(3) Step three, the terms of requirements (ToR) should be comprehensive and include all factors needed to ensure sustainable sanitation in the actual context. They are usually set by a facilitator together with stakeholders and the body responsible for sanitation (often the local government). Function requirements can be organised into two blocks. The first block contains primary functions such as hygiene, environmental protection, water protection and resource conservation. The second block is applicable more for the user concerning practical functions such as user-friendliness, reliability, costs and management issues. A viable balance between these two blocks needs to be obtained. There is no universal ToR that can describe what is sustainable in all settings. The ToR need to be identified for each setting.

 

(4) In step four, the analysis of possible solutions, at least three system solutions that fulfil the terms of requirements should be presented to the community. A comparison is made with regards to all criteria. The alternatives should be presented in such a way that the community understands why some techniques are feasible and adequate, whereas others have been abandoned.

 

(5) The final step five, the choice of the most appropriate solution is to evaluate and compare the three possible alternatives from step 4. One possible method is by using a scoring system. The final choice of sanitation system should be made by the stakeholders and future users (KVARNSTROEM & PETERSENS 2005).

Applicability

The guideline is intended to create and support an open and democratic sanitation planning process and is aimed at planners and implementers at project level. It can be applied both in rural, peri-urban and urban areas.

In areas with a long history of top-down decision making it can be difficult to use the participatory framework successfully.

Advantages

  • Sustainable sanitation is centred in the approach.
  • Participatory planning and decision making as a key factor increases consensus on the project goal.
  • Engages participants and creates a sense of ownership.

Disadvantages

  • Participatory planning can be difficult in areas with a long history of top-down decision-making. If stakeholders are not used to being consulted it can be difficult for them to express their opinions or offer constructive solutions (KVARNSTROEM & MCCONVILLE 2007).
  • Requires behavioural change in addition to infrastructural improvements.
  • Financing can be a challenge.

References Library

KVARNSTROEM, E.; MCCONVILLE, J. (2007): Sanitation Planning – A Tool to Achieve Sustainable Sanitation?. Stockholm: Stockholm Environmental Institute. URL [Accessed: 06.04.2010].

KVARNSTROEM, E.; AF PETERSENS, E. (2004): Open Planning of Sanitation Systems. Stockholm: Stockholm Environmental Institute. URL [Accessed: 06.04.2010].

KVARNSTROEM, E.; AF PETERSENS, E. (2005): Open Planning of Sanitation Systems. EcoSanRes Factsheet 7. Stockholm: Stockholm Environmental Institute. URL [Accessed: 06.04.2010].

Further Readings Library

Reference icon

KVARNSTROEM, E.; AF PETERSENS, E. (2004): Open Planning of Sanitation Systems. Stockholm: Stockholm Environmental Institute. URL [Accessed: 06.04.2010].

The manual of the OPPS approach provides detailed information about the application of the framework.


Reference icon

KVARNSTROEM, E.; AF PETERSENS, E. (2005): Open Planning of Sanitation Systems. EcoSanRes Factsheet 7. Stockholm: Stockholm Environmental Institute. URL [Accessed: 06.04.2010].

The factsheet about the OPPS-approach published by EcoSanRes gives a clear overview about the framework and the used planning tools.


Reference icon

MUELLEGGER, E. (Editor); LECHNER, M. (Editor) (2008): Solutions in Sanitation. Planning Principles. Wien: Austrian Development Agency. URL [Accessed: 22.04.2010].

The purpose of this brochure is to inform about various planning approaches, strategies, priorities and directions in the area of sustainable sanitation.


Reference icon

KVARNSTROEM, E.; MCCONVILLE, J. (2007): Sanitation Planning – A Tool to Achieve Sustainable Sanitation?. Stockholm: Stockholm Environmental Institute. URL [Accessed: 06.04.2010].

Planning tools related to sustainable sanitation are discussed in this paper. Furthermore, a case study about the application of the framework in Lamborö, Sweden gives some interesting insights about challenges using the approach practically.


Case Studies Library

Reference icon

KVARNSTROEM, E.; MCCONVILLE, J. (2007): Sanitation Planning – A Tool to Achieve Sustainable Sanitation?. Stockholm: Stockholm Environmental Institute. URL [Accessed: 06.04.2010].

Planning tools related to sustainable sanitation are discussed in this paper. Furthermore, a case study about the application of the framework in Lamborö, Sweden gives some interesting insights about challenges using the approach practically.


Important Weblinks

http://www.ecosanres.org/

Official web page of the Ecological Sanitation Research Programme (EcoSanRes). The EcoSanRes Programme aims to develop and promote sustainable sanitation in the developing world through capacity development and knowledge management as a contribution to equity, health, poverty alleviation, and improved environmental quality. It contains numerous helpful publications, and also allows you to gain access to the EcoSanRes discussion forum, currently the most active discussion forum on ecological sanitation.

http://www.netssaftutorial.com/How-to-use-this-tutorial.520.0.html [Accessed: 06.04.2010]

The NETSSAF tutorial for sustainable sanitation planning introduces a participatory planning approach. It targets planners of sanitation programmes in West Africa and provides guidance in facilitating “informed choices” in consultation with users and other stakeholders.

http://www.susana.org/

The official website of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance SuSanA. SuSanA is a loose network of a number of organizations active in the field of sanitation, founded in 2007. The goals and objectives of SuSanA are to contribute to the achievement of the MDGs, to raise awareness on what sustainable sanitation solutions are and to promote them on a larger scale. The website contains a number of factsheets by the different SuSanA working groups on various subjects related to sustainable sanitation. There is section where everyone can upload important documents.