SLH Learning Paper;11

Rural Sanitation Programming in Challenging Contexts: A Desk Based Review

Published on 9 March 2021

This report summarises the findings of a desk review on ‘Rural Sanitation in Challenging Contexts’. The study sought to identify the current approaches, experiences and existing guidance in the sector in reaching those at risk of being ‘left behind’ from rural sanitation initiatives.

The research looked at five broad, interconnected themes of ‘challenges’, including: poverty and social marginalisation; tough physical environments; entrenched social norms; livelihoods and lifestyles; fragile contexts.

Through a review of around 180 documented resources and key informant interviews with 44 sector experts, it documented examples of literature, guidance and experiences in efforts for overcoming these challenges, noting common trends, and importantly, key gaps. Numerous recommendations arose through the study, which SLH, UNICEF and WaterAid are discussing with wider sector actors as to how to take some forward.

Cite this publication

Tillett, W. and Jones, O. (2020) ‘Rural Sanitation Programming in Challenging Contexts: A desk based review’, SLH Learning Paper 11, The Sanitation Learning Hub, Brighton: IDS, DOI:


Oliver Jones
Will Tillett

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published by
Institute of Development Studies


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Programmes and centres
The Sanitation Learning Hub

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