2020 Health and Social Protection Other

Making Sanitation Happen: An Enquiry into Multi-Level Sanitation Governance

Nelson Ekane

Sanitation is high on the international development agenda, but how is sanitation policy actually put into practice on the ground? This DDB examines governance structures in sanitation on multiple levels across Rwanda and Uganda.

The report was presented during the seminar Att omvandla policy till verklighet – lärdomar från Östafrika.

Main findings

  • Sanitation remains a low priority in national budgets despite proclamations of political commitments to tackle the problem.
  • Political leadership and commitment in combination with top-down authority and oversight as in the case of Rwanda ensures accountability and contributes to improved sector performance.
  • How to get people to build and properly use latrines remains a key challenge. The dependence of national governments on external funding and the lack of national ownership and follow-up of programmes, particularly when external funding ends, compromise sustainability of programmes.
  • Sanitation and hygiene are behavioural matters which are largely influenced by context and culture. These factors pose multiple barriers to behavior change.
  • Sanitation and hygiene are public problems that require collective action for the common good. This implies that self-interest must be limited if universal compliance is to be attained.
  • Individuals at household and community levels remain key implementers of basic sanitation facilities as they enjoy discretion in determining what actions to take, what choices to make or which options to adopt, and whether to comply or not.

Nelson Ekane defended his dissertation Making Sanitation Happen: An Inquiry into Multi-Level Sanitation Governance in March 2018 at the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and is a research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). His primary research interests concern risk management and communication, sanitation and sustainable resource management. Nelson’s dissertation was funded by the Swedish Research Council.