WSSCC visits China

Date: 9th November 2010

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In October 2009 WSSCC was pleased to make its first visit to China to learn about its WASH sector. The visit focused on meeting colleagues and learning about sanitation and hygiene issues and programmes as well as exploring the role for WSSCC in relation to China. There are a large number of people without improved sanitation in China, some 460 million mainly in rural areas according to the JMP.

Here are the key features of China’s rural sanitation programme which is administered by the Ministry of Health that the team (Jon Lane, Carolien Van der Voorden and TV Luong) discovered:

  • A hygiene and sanitation promotion and demand creation component.
  • Government promotes six types of “non polluting” latrines (double urns, biogas, three compartments, alternating twin-pit latrine; eco latrine with urine-faeces separation, and flush latrine) for rural households. Families can choose the type of latrine which is most suitable and meets their requirements.
  • A hardware partial subsidy scheme.
  • Targets are set at each level, from Central Government down to village level, against which officials are measured.
  • A strong monitoring system, focusing both on quantity and quality (construction and use).

According to China’s Ministry of Health, sanitation coverage is 60%, but of this 37% are not sanitary latrines as per the government’s definition. The additional 40% of non-covered households do not defecate in the open as such, but use latrines amounting to not much more than holes in the backyard. The Central Government plans to increase coverage to 65% by 2010, and to 75% by 2015. This involves the construction of several million toilets each year that need to meet minimum standards, namely that they cause zero pollution and facilitate treatment/digestion on the household’s premises. Six pre-selected toilet models are available, ranging from basic to more advanced.

“China’s experiences with its rural sanitation programme can provide interesting and important lessons to share with the wider international sector,’ said Mr. Jon Lane, WSSCC Executive Director, ‘but the Chinese stakeholders also made it clear that they are very interested to learn from other experiences, especially on issues of sanitation and hygiene promotion, and the balance between software and hardware.”

These learning and sharing opportunities, he added, could benefit both China and other countries where WSSCC is active.

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