Proceedings of the 42nd WEDC International Conference

Equitable and Sustainable WASH Services

Future challenges in a rapidly changing world

The current climate crisis demands that we step up to the challenge of creating truly sustainable and equitable WASH services, those that minimise climate impacts, protect environment and finally reach those most in need.

  • The recent IPCC report highlighted the urgent need to reduce methane emissions and yet very little is said about the link between greenhouse gases and ineffective sanitation, which accounts for roughly 2% to 6% of global methane emissions. Emerging research shows that CBS systems can significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions from sanitation.
  • CBS is an innovative solution in which an enterprise provides toilets with sealable, removable containers that are emptied on a regular basis for the safe disposal or reuse of waste. By separating waste, they reduce the anaerobic degradation that produces methane. They also require less energy than conventional wastewater treatment, and many services recover nutrients to produce sustainable, value-added products such as compost and biofuel.
  • As CBS toilets can be sealed to ensure no waste is released into the environment, they never leave sludge untreated to contaminate the environment, even during flooding.
  • CBS is also ideally suited to challenging geographies where low-income communities are often forced to live, including areas that are densely populated or have rocky or unstable soil conditions, high water tables, limited water availability, challenging topographies, or vulnerability to flooding. In many of these areas, sewers can be difficult to build or are not feasible at all.
  • Despite the shift in urban sanitation planning to more contextual, sustainable, and equitable solutions through Citywide Inclusive Sanitation initiative, or CWIS, led by the World Bank and the partners, scale up of CBS services is impeded by low levels of awareness and misconceptions.
  • This has included the perception that CBS is an expensive option. However, recent findings by EY revealed that CBS services were found to be the most cost-effective form of safely managed sanitation. With the myth of CBS’ costliness dispelled, the next challenge is addressing unfamiliarity with its cost structure, which is comparatively more expense-driven than other systems of sanitation. This hampers progress on the take up of large-scale public procurement that could significantly scale CBS.
  • The Container Based Sanitation Alliance (CBSA) is a coalition of practitioners around the world with extensive experience in developing and providing container-based sanitation services (CBS). We work together to research and advocate for the approach as well as improve quality and efficient of service provision through member support.

If you'd like to learn more, join us on Monday @ 15:45 when we'll be available for a chat. Alternatively, follow up with us by email, by contacting us at

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