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  • Will Tillett

Improving Rural Sanitation in Challenging Contexts



Of the two billion people worldwide lacking access to at least basic sanitation, seven out of ten live in rural areas.

Progress has been made on increasing rural sanitation and access levels are rising, but barriers remain in reaching the ‘last mile’ or some 10 to 20 per cent of the population who live in the most challenging contexts. The factors affecting the ability of households to construct and use toilets, as well as the challenges sanitation programmes face in reaching specific groups, are highly diverse. Applying one-size fits all approaches has been proven not to work; therefore, we need more nuanced, adapted, and targeted approaches to capture the universality element of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure that no one is left behind. However, we recognise that challenges can be persistent and there are limited documented examples of how to overcome these challenges at scale.


Aguaconsult worked with Bluechain Consulting to carry out this research commissioned by the Sanitation Learning Hub, UNICEF, and WaterAid  to map rural sanitation approaches in challenging contexts and the guidance currently being used, drawing out emerging experiences and lessons. It involved key informant interviews (KIIs) with 44 interviewees, and consulting over 180 documented resources. This Learning Brief provides an overview of the study findings.


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