How to make citywide sanitation plans: Bangladesh man shows the way

City sanitation planning provides a sound data base for practical decision-making on city sanitation 

By Mahreen Matto
Published: Wednesday 30 September 2020

This is the second story in a three-part series of stories from impact workshop conducted by Centre for Science and Environment under the School of Water and Waste programme to mainstream sustainable urban water management for creating future sanitation leaders

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rapid urbanisation and lack of sanitation planning and infrastructure in developing countries have reinstated the need for global action to ensure access to safe water and sanitation.

City sanitation planning (CSP), in such a scenario, provides an overarching approach to develop city-wide sanitation sector. The process provides a sound data-supported basis for practical decision-making on city sanitation and allows prioritising certain actions. For example, sanitation-stressed areas or those where health risks are the highest are the first to be considered for any such plans.

The School of Water and Waste (SWW), under Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has been conducting regular trainings on citywide water and sanitation management. The Anil Agarwal Environment Training Institute (AAETI), an education and training initiative of CSE, spearheaded the programme.   

Kazi Al-Amin from Bangladesh is among several people who has made the best use of the trainings. Al-Amin, now a coordinator, urban sanitation planning at developement charity Practical Action, worked as a research associate for six years at a consulting organisation.

After attending CSE trainings on ‘Faecal Sludge Management’ in 2017 in Dhaka, he developed a keen interest in sanitation planning. Trainings on ‘International Training on Tools and Approaches for Citywide Water and Sanitation Management’ at AAETI, India inspired him to learn about shit flow diagram (SFD) and CSP as well.

He started working for WaterAid and Practical Action, Bangladesh, shortly after completing his trainings. He prepared 14 SFDs for different organisations there. At least nine were prepared for WaterAid Bangladesh, one for non-profit Forum for Public Health and four for Practical Action Bangladesh.

He prepared the SFDs for several municipal administrations in Bangladesh as well, including Cumilla City Corporation, Narayanganj City Corporation, Gazipur City Corporation, Sylhet City Corporation, Rajshahi City Corporation, Mymensingh City Corporation, among others.

Shit flow diagram for Magura municipality, Bangladesh

Chart: Practical Action

SFD is an advocacy tool to readily understand and communicate how excreta flow through a city or town. SFDs have played an important role in presenting the complex sanitation value chain through a very easy-to-understand graphic to city / municipal authority.

“CSE made me capable of working as an expert in the sanitation sector. It was my guiding light; it encouraged me and made me who I am today. Thank you for helping me reach new heights” – Kazi Al-Amin

Several baseline and situation assessment reports would earlier be prepared and presented to the authorities concerned before work on SFD reports started.

But the earlier reports could not present the situation like SFD did: The latter enabled authorities to have a clear view of the situation on the ground and streamline work accordingly.

Shit flow diagram for Comila City corporation, Bangladesh


Chart: Practical Action

Currently, Al-Amin is also involved with capacity building programmes on Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) in collaboration with CSE. He has been working on multiple projects on the preparation of CSP using CWIS approach for five different cities: Faridpur, Rajbari, Meherpur, Magura and Laksham municipality.

He also plans to prepare CSP for a few more project areas such as Barguna, Satkhira municipality and Gazipur City Corporation.

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