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Planning & Design of Sanitation Systems and Technologies

Learn more about how to plan for urban sanitation at city and local/community levels, different sanitation system and technology configurations and examples of successful and failed urban sanitation systems in low- and middle-income countries.


Course at a Glance

About the Course

Sanitation is one of the most off-track MDGs and progress in urban sanitation is proving especially difficult to achieve. The traditional response for improving urban sanitation is typically based on a master planning approach which has widely failed to meet the needs of low-income communities living in slums, who cannot afford to pay the expected charges for service improvements.

In this course you will learn how to plan for affordable and context-specific sanitation solutions using some state-of-the-art sector planning tools and frameworks such as Sanitation 21, Community-Led Urban Environmental Sanitation (CLUES) and the Sanitation Systems Approach. By using exercises and concrete examples, participants will learn how to choose appropriate sanitation systems and technologies for a variety of urban contexts.

It is the 2nd MOOC of the series on "Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development", which is an initiative of Sandec/Eawag and EPFL. Sandec/Eawag develops and offers the series as WHO Collaborating Centre. The dissemination is supported by UNESCOThe first MOOC of the series is entitled "Introduction to Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage".

Version française: Le cours en bref - Planification & design des systèmes et technologies d’Assainissement

Course Syllabus

WEEK 1: Introduction to sanitation planning & systems approach
About this course; Introduction to urban environmental sanitation in low- and middle-income countries; Main differences between rural and urban sanitation; The case for improved sanitation planning & programming; Why enabling environments are a precondition for sector progress; Examples of state of the art planning approaches.

WEEK 2: Sanitation systems & technologies
Introduction to sanitation systems including system templates, functional groups and products. Difference between wet and dry systems; Using the eCompendium planning tool, participants will practice their skills in building a complete sanitation system from user interface to disposal or re-use of products.

WEEK 3: Sanitation systems & technologies
Introduction to different technologies from each functional group: user interface; collection; conveyance; treatment and use/reuse. Featuring concrete examples from Africa, Asia and Latin America for a large variety of technologies.

WEEK 4: Urban sanitation solutions - 3 case studies
Examples of complete sanitation system configurations: successful and failed examples. 
Individual exercise: propose a sanitation system for a selected (slum) site.

WEEK 5: Wrap-up and question & answer-session
Q&A session: what are key elements for sustainable sanitation in urban contexts?, Wrap-up module, final exam.

Recommended Background

A general background in environmental or civil engineering, urban planning or geography is suggested to fully benefit from this course.

Course Format

The class will consist of lecture videos, practical exercises, a homework quiz and a final exam. The questions and explanations for the practical exercises, the homework quiz and the final exam are offered in English and French. Please take into account that the practical exercises can only be submitted in English.


Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor. It is the second course of the series “WASH in developing countries”. Students who successfully complete all courses of the series will receive an additional Statement of Accomplishment.

What resources will I need for this class?
For this course, all you need is an internet connection, an interest and some background knowledge in urban sanitation, and the time to read and discuss.

What is the format of the class?
Lectures, videos, exercises, on-line discussion

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