The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WSH) Program commits to transforming the sanitation sector to reach universal use of sustainable sanitation. This was declared in the South-by-South Knowledge Event on September 12 & 13 in Nepal. To achieve this vision, an overall strategy is based on three building blocks of change: (1) policy advocacy and communications, (2) Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS), and (3) transformative technology commercialization and integrate gender and strategic learning as cross-cutting themes in the strategy. This article captured the foundation’s vision, presented by Dr. Roshan Shrestha, Deputy Director, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, in contributing to better health, economic, and gender equality outcomes, with focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia.

Policy Advocacy and Communications

Policy advocacy and communications are essential for creating an enabling environment for sanitation improvement. One of the key policy issues that the foundation’s advocate for is the adoption of CWIS as a framework for public service delivery of sanitation. Engaging governments is essential to build political will, strengthen policies, regulations, institutions and increase investments in inclusive sanitation. While connecting with civil society organizations, media, and other stakeholders contributes to raise awareness, generate demand, and influence policies and regulations. This includes evidence-based advocacy and communications campaigns that showcase best practices, success stories, and lessons learned from our partners and grantees.

Citywide Inclusive Sanitation

The second strategy component is Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS), a framework for public service delivery of sanitation that aims to ensure that everyone has access to safely managed sanitation services. It is based on six core principles: equity, safety, sustainability, responsibility, accountability, and resource planning and management. CWIS enables systems change within public service authorities to deliver inclusive sanitation, in partnership with development and financing partners.

Transformative Technology Commercialization

Transformative technology commercialization is another key component of WSH strategy through development and deployment of innovative and scalable technologies that can treat human waste, kill pathogen on-site without external energy or water, while producing valuable byproducts such as water, energy, or fertilizer.  The goal is to stimulate market entry & growth, creating a vibrant and competitive market for sanitation technologies that drive sustainable and widespread adoption.

Some examples of these technologies are:

  • The Cranfield Toilet System, which converts human waste into water and ash. The system is designed for single-household use and does not require any chemicals. The water can be reused for washing or irrigation, and the ash can be used as soil amendment. The system is powered by energy generated from the waste itself.
  • The Omni Processor, which uses various processes to remove pathogens from fecal sludge and produce drinking water, electricity, and ash. The system can treat sludge from multiple sources, such as pit latrines, septic tanks, or sewers and other types of waste, such as municipal solid waste or agricultural waste.

The foundation’s water, sanitation and hygiene strategy, which includes three building blocks of change above and integrates gender and strategic learning, will contribute to reaching universal use of sustainable sanitation.