Water Sanitation Health

Sanitation challenge: Turning commitment into reality

Legislation and regulations

Creating the right types of legislation/regulations in support of extending sanitation and hygiene services and improving their quality is essential in the process of achieving targets and maintaining achievements. Legislation/regulations should create conditions that favour innovation (both in technology and in financing mechanisms); define cooperation between relevant stakeholders, including the private sector; allocate financial resources to capacity building and training, and to monitoring, implementation and maintenance. Consistent standards for sanitation and hygiene must be set across all other relevant sectors (for example, education, housing construction, workplace safety). Enforcement of enacted legislation/regulations is essential. Effective legislation/regulations will have both incentives for complying and sanctions for not complying with the requirements.

What can we do?

National governments can develop a national sanitation strategy and create the necessary legislation/regulations to advance the strategy; define the roles and responsibilities of different national institutions to implement the law; involve stakeholders at all stages of the process to ensure that the legislation/regulations will be viable and accepted by the public; and create mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing implementation of legislation/regulations.

District/local governments can develop local sanitation and hygiene regulations in consultation with stakeholders; establish standards and norms; inform citizens of their rights and duties under existing sanitation legislation/regulations; and set up mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing their implementation.

Communities and civil society can request specific sanitation and hygiene regulations; participate in legislation and regulation development as stakeholders; and report back to authorities when laws are broken. Households can learn about their rights and responsibilities under existing sanitation legislation; and demand legislation/regulations from local authorities and help to monitor implementation of sanitation and hygiene legislation and regulations at the local level (e.g. registering complaints with local authorities when legislation/regulations are not adequately implemented).

Entrepreneurs can lobby governments to have their concerns addressed in legislation and regulations; ensure that their products or services comply with legislation/regulations; and let the government know what is happening at the local level.

International organisations can compile and disseminate examples of effective sanitation and hygiene legislation/regulations to interested countries; develop and disseminate evidence-based guidance materials to help countries create an effective legal framework; facilitate the sharing of information through conferences, workshops and other forums; and assist in building regional consensus on the development and implementation of multilateral agreements, such as rules and regulations in binding conventions and protocols and through voluntary initiatives in the sector.

We’re inspired by…

... the right to sanitation in a new draft constitution for Kenya
After two-and-a-half years of consultations with citizens from every region of Kenya, the Constitution Review Commission wrote a new draft constitution for Kenya. The draft constitution contains a defined right with reference to sanitation: “everyone has a right to a reasonable standard of sanitation”.

WHO Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater and excreta in agriculture and aquaculture
WHO published Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater and excreta in agriculture and aquaculture in 1989. These guidelines have had a major impact on the rational use of wastewater and excreta in countries worldwide; several countries have used them as the scientific point of departure for developing their own standards. The guidelines emphasise practical approaches to reducing health risks and maximising the beneficial use of scarce resources. The guidelines are currently being revised to incorporate new scientific information and experience since the first edition.

Sources: Kenya information from the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) web site (www.IRC.nl).