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X.2 Rehabilitation of Existing Infrastructure

Planning the rehabilitation and reconstruction of sanitation infrastructure is a task that normally falls under the management of specific government agencies. However, in post disaster/emergency situations, depending on the scale of the resulting damage, aid agencies, civil society and other organisations, private and public, may collaborate with the government to facilitate the rehabilitation and/or (re)construction of the infrastructure, based on damage and needs assessments. Before thinking about new emergency sanitation technology components to be implemented, it is recommended to conduct a proper assessment of what sanitation infrastructure (components) are in place, what might still be functioning and what can be rehabilitated with minimal effort (e.g. after a typhoon all above surface infrastructure may be destroyed or blown away but underground pits and septic tanks may still be in place and operational. With rehabilitation of the superstructure it may be possible to put these into service again).

Rehabilitation can be a complex process that, depending on the size of the systems, can take between a couple of weeks to up to several years. When undertaking rehabilitation programmes, it is important that the different organisations involved coordinate with the government and among themselves, and conform to existing national policies and standards X.4. Linkages to existing long-term governmental programmes should also be examined and developed. Once the acute needs of the affected population have been met, further assessments will indicate key sanitation facilities that require rehabilitation. The basic principle of the rehabilitation of sanitation infrastructure is to prevent the deterioration of existing infrastructure, romote safe sanitation and hygiene practices and prevent sanitation emergencies. Additionally, rehabilitation efforts provide an opportunity to improve the quality of the existing sanitation system, the environment and to build safer more resilient communities. It is therefore important to appropriately incorporate the principals of sustainability from the earliest stages of the rehabilitation effort.

Considering Sustainability in Sanitation Rehabilitation Programmes:
  • Avoid building sanitation infrastructure that are exposed to hazards, inefficient or insufficient (too small)
  • Ensure technical sustainability – local technical capacity and materials should match the level required by the sanitation technology being implemented
  • Build on local knowledge and utilise local materials where appropriate and possible
  • Where local communities are to operate and maintain the infrastructure, they should be involved throughout entire project cycle
  • Where required, increase community and local authorities’ knowledge and capacities on the operation and maintenance of the infrastructure that they will eventually take over
Sanitation technologies are defined as the specific infrastructure, methods, or services designed to collect, contain, transform and treat products, or to transport products to another functional group. Each of the technologies included in this compendium is described on a 2-page technology information sheet in the technology compilation section. Only those sanitation technologies that have been sufficiently proven and tested are included, with a few notable exceptions of emerging technologies, which are clearly marked as such. The compendium is primarily concerned with systems and technologies directly related to managing human excreta. It does not specifically address greywater and only partially addresses stormwater management, although it does signal when a specific technology can be used to co-treat stormwater or greywater with excreta. Greywater and stormwater technologies are thus not described in detail, but are still shown as products in the system templates.A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment. Describes the conditions under which putrefaction and anaerobic digestion take place. The above ground walls and roof built around a toilet or bathing facility to provide privacy and protection to the user. User interface used for urination and defecation. Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

In line with the Sphere standards, it is important to agree on the construction standards and guidelines with relevant national and local authorities to ensure that key safety and performance requirements are met. Local or national building codes should be adhered to. In situations where building codes do not exist or have not been enforced, international building codes and/or uniform building codes can be tailored to the local situation. Local culture, climatic conditions, available resources, building and maintenance capacities, accessibility and affordability  should all be a part of system design, implementation and operation and maintenance.

The success of a sanitation rehabilitation programme requires well-functioning and sustainable  management. To understand the contribution the local market can make to sustainable sanitation, market mapping and analysis can be implemented X.13. Market mapping and analysis can identify strategies, such as cash-based interventions, local procurement and other innovative forms of support to enable sanitation rehabilitation programmes to take advantage of existing market capabilities. Engaging with the existing market can contribute to a more efficient use of humanitarian resources, encourage recovery and reduce dependence on outside assistance. When external actors participate in infrastructure rehabilitation the terms of engagement should be clear, including the duration of project support, transition and exit strategies X.6. The handover of responsibilities to local government, community, service providers or other organisations should include clear instructions and training on infrastructure operation and maintenance.

The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.


Brandberg, B. (1997): Latrine Building. A Handbook for Implementation of the Sanplat System. Intermediate Technology Publications, London

Harvey, P. A. (2007): Excreta Disposal in Emergencies. WEDC, Loughborough University, UK