Wastewater management predominantly takes the form of On-Site Sanitation (OSS) in low- and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs). In India, households construct and operate OSS systems in the absence of regulatory oversight and seldom in compliance with the national technical standards – posing a risk to water sources and public health. The present paper reviews novel evidence on the quality of these systems from a multi-state survey of 3000 households in India to identify policy and practice interventions for creating sustainable urban sanitation futures. The paper argues for local and national governments to unlock the potential of OSS as a safe and long-term wastewater management solution through (1) re-envisioning the system design to simultaneously meet household and environmental needs, (2) fostering prefabrication of systems as a means to distribute the compliance responsibility optimally, and (3) updating technical standards for facilitating such a paradigm shift.
The Journal Article is based on the study, Unearthed – Facts of On-Site Sanitation in Urban India, conducted by the Scaling City Institutions for India (SCI-FI) Initiative.Publisher Page>