Sanitation in South Asia: strengthening municipal finance for sustainable service delivery in small towns

Community toilets

Bangladesh, India and Nepal have significantly improved basic sanitation services to people who do not have access. However, the safe management of toilet waste is still in its infancy.

Delivering safe and inclusive sanitation services along the whole service chain requires considerable investment. Towns must be able to raise, allocate and manage the finances needed to build the physical infrastructure, to operate and manage sanitation services in the long term, and to strengthen the capacities and institutions required to deliver inclusive sanitation services in a sustainable way.

This report by Athena Infonomics and WaterAid delves into the difficulties of financing sanitation in small towns in South Asia. The study documents good practices in funding urban sanitation, using six small towns as case studies: Jhenaidah and Sakhipur in Bangladesh; Dhenkanal and Sircilla in India; and Mahalaxmi and Birtamod in Nepal. The case studies offer lessons on how other towns can improve the sustainability of their sanitation services.

This study aims to increase awareness around:

  • The importance of properly investing in municipal sanitation services
  • The need for multiple sources of financing, including fees, tariffs and public funding, both via revenue raised at the municipal level and via funds transferred by national and sub-national governments
  • The fact that reuse (the sale of end products such as compost) can help offset the costs of running the services – but only by a small percentage