How to Plan For Inclusive Sanitation?

The process of Planning for Inclusive Sanitation recognises that different groups of people have different sanitation needs and preferences. Those differences must be considered when designing and implementing sanitation programmes and policies. Inclusive planning is best achieved through the participation of all stakeholders, including different user groups, local authorities, community representatives and sanitation practitioners. 


Inclusive and equitable (or universal) sanitation design aims to ensure that each and everyone in the affected community, regardless of their socio-economic status, gender, age or ability are involved in decision-making and have access to safe, hygienic and sustainable sanitation facilities and services. 

An inclusive process is important because it helps improve people’s sense of dignity, self-reliance, health and well-being. It also supports caregivers and helps to counteract misunderstanding and ignorance. 

The key parameters to consider when planning for inclusive sanitation are below. More information can be found in Inclusive Planning and Participation


Planning for inclusive sanitation involves developing strategies and interventions that ensure equitable access to safe and adequate sanitation facilities and services for all. To design and build inclusive sanitation facilities, it is important to consider the following key parameters: 

  1. Inclusive and Equitable Design: ensure that sanitation facilities and services are accessible to all members of the affected population, including people living with disabilities, women and girls and older people. This may involve, for example, providing ramps, handrails and other accessibility features 
  1. Availability: plan for a minimum of 15% of all public latrines to be inclusive, with other latrines built as barrier-free and as accessible as possible 
  1. Gender sensitivity: consider the different sanitation needs and preferences of men and women, boys and girls and design interventions that  contribute to gender equality 
  1. Safety and privacy: ensure that sanitation facilities (particularly those for women and girls) are in safe and secure areas with adequate lighting and privacy 
  1. Cultural and social norms: learn about the cultural and social norms that influence people’s sanitation practices and preferences and ensure that the interventions are culturally appropriate and sensitive to the local context 
  1. Inclusive Communication and Participation: disseminate all relevant WASH information and hygiene promotion messages using appropriate and varied communication means (e.g. using large print, loudspeakers, simple language, illustrations) 
  1. Sustainability (see also Exit Strategy): establish a maintenance and management plan for the facilities and services

Process & Good Practice

  • Identify the barriers to using sanitation facilities and the gaps and challenges of meeting the needs of different population groups (such as women, men, children, older people and people living with disabilities). See also Needs Assessment. Involve representatives of all the different groups to gather their feedback and input 
  • Address the needs of vulnerable people and those with specific needs in the sanitation planning process. This may include providing separate facilities for women and girls, designing accessible toilets for people living with disabilities and child-friendly facilities 
  • Develop a sanitation strategy that describes the specific interventions to be implemented, the target population and the expected outcomes. The strategy should address the key parameters outlined above in the Overview 
  • Monitor, Evaluate and regularly engage with the affected communities, including all vulnerable groups, to ensure that their needs and preferences continue to be considered. This can involve conducting community consultations, Focus Group Discussions, and other Participatory Methods
Catherine Bourgault
Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST)
Reviewer(s) / Contributor(s)
Dorothee Spuhler
Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)
Rob Gensch
German Toilet Organization (GTO)

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