A conceptual model of people's approach to sanitation

Santosh M. Avvannavar, Monto Mani

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

    33 Citations (Scopus)


    Sanitation is a term primarily used to characterize the safe and sound handling (and disposal) of human excreta — or simply, people's approach to take-care of their (unavoidable) primal urge. According to the recent Human Development Report 2006 Global access to proper sanitation stands at approximately 58% with 37% being a conservative estimate both for South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Various multi-million dollar sanitation programmes the world over have had little success, often due to inadequate understanding of people's sanitation approach. Sanitation approach includes the perception, feel and practices involved in satisficing the primal need to defecate and urinate (and their disposal). This paper presents a structure to understand the nature of psycho-socio-economic influences that determine societal approach to sanitation. Societies across the globe have evolved imbibing diverse influences attributed to the local environment, religion, cultural practices, war, etc. While a civilization's living environment reflects these influences in their built-environment characteristics, the influences are often deep-rooted and can be traced to the way the community members satisfice their need to defecate and urinate (sanitation approach). The objective of this paper is to trace the various approaches that diverse societies/civilizations, over time, across the world have had towards sanitation, and present a structure to articulate and understand determining factors. Sanitation also involves other domestic (solid and liquid) waste disposal but in the context of this paper the scope of sanitation has been restricted to human excreta alone. The structure presented and discussed in this paper would be useful in understanding a community better in terms of providing appropriate sanitation. It is hoped that this structure be considered as a basis for further refinement and detailed research into each of the factors determining people's sanitation approach.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    JournalScience of the total environment
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • IR-59978


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