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Community, rural and schools (with gender and social aspects)

Working Group 7

Raising general awareness for community and rural sanitation by creating discussion fora and enhancing networking opportunities.


Why focus on rural communities?

Experiences around the world have revealed that sanitation initiatives funded by external agencies only, usually do not achieve sustainable sanitation services on a large scale in the longer term, particularly in the rural communities. It is important that communities themselves get deeply involved here and take leadership in their own sanitation projects and programs, including for example school sanitation. This has paramount importance to ensure sustained sanitation services and to link sanitation to communities' livelihood programs.

As an example, Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is an established approach for mobilising communities to completely eliminate open defecation (OD). Communities are facilitated to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of open defecation (OD) and take their own action to become ODF (open defecation free).

Water and Sanitation Safety Planning (WSSP) is based on the related WHO methodology and was further developed to involve small communities to take action themselves to improve their water and sanitation conditions in a sustainable way.

Why focus on gender?

Gender mainstreaming is an important tool in any field in order to approach gender equality. In sanitation, gender aspects have to be particularly taken into account, as these are essential for sustainable sanitation and hygiene. Noticeably one of the most observable divides between women and men, especially in developing countries, is in sanitation and hygiene. The provision of hygiene and sanitation are often considered women’s tasks. This is especially the case in small and rural communities where public services for water, sanitation and health are often absent.

Women are promoters, educators and leaders of home and community-based sanitation practices. However, women’s concerns are rarely addressed, as societal barriers continually restrict women’s involvement in decisions regarding toilets, sanitation programmes and projects. And in many societies women’s views – as opposed to those of men - are systematically under-represented in decision-making bodies.

Girls, particularly after puberty, miss school or even drop out of their schools due to the lack of sanitary facilities, and/or the absence of separation of girls’ and boys’ toilets. In these situations, girls also stay away from school when they are menstruating.



This working group tries to raise general awareness for community and rural sanitation by creating discussion fora and enhancing networking opportunities. The aims of these activities are to encourage research and innovations, and to encourage community members to advocate and engage in policy dialogues.

Mainstreaming gender into sanitation programmes and involving women and men into sanitation projects is a second objective.

Third objective is to strengthen sanitation in schools and other institutions within community structures.

Activities achieved so far 

  • addressing the specific needs of both men and women in sustainable sanitation so that both accept the sustainable sanitation solutions: Factsheet: Integrating a gender perspective in sustainable sanitation
  • addressing WASH in Schools and e.g. to show the link of improved school sanitation with academic performance particularly for education of girls and the rural poor. Fact sheet Sustainable sanitation for schools

Collection of WASH in School stories from SuSanA partners:


What is planned and how can you get involved?

  • In light of the Agenda2030, we plan to update the two fact sheets, revising and linking them to the overall SDG agenda.
  • We plan to collect new case stories for successful WASH in institutions, and especially on operation and maintenance and prepare a third publication of stories. 

If you are interested in the planned activities, please contact us!

Beyond these: if you interested in or work with sanitation in rural communities, gender and WASH in institutions, you are most welcome to share your experiences with other players in the sector! Be part of the international sanitation community! Take part in the forum discussions, subscribe to the mailing list and contact us! Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Working Group Leads

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WECF, Germany

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Thrive Networks, Vietnam

Renaming and updating the WG7 in light of Agenda2030

By shobana (10.04.2018) , further replies by: conniebenjamin, BelindaA
(total 11 replies)

WASH in Schools @ Stockholm World Water Week 2017

By Jona (16.10.2017) , further replies by: rob#,
(total 2 replies)

What we have done so far in WG7 around MHM

By CWendland (01.06.2017) , further replies by: muench, CWendland
(total 3 replies)

WG 7: Take part in SuSanA's Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for World Water Day (19th/20th March)!

By muench (17.03.2017) , further replies by: CompostEra, CompostEra
(total 17 replies)

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