Skip to main content

Rethinking Sustainable Sanitation for the Urban Domain

The full text article is not available for purchase.

The publisher only permits individual articles to be downloaded by subscribers.

or click here to sign up for a free trial


Climate change, diminishing natural resources and rural-urban demographic trends will have profound impacts on future urban infrastructure delivery in both developed and developing countries. These challenges will however, leverage new opportunities for circular urban economies in which productive sanitation will play an important role in both the North and South. In the developed world, the challenge is to initiate a transition from disposal oriented, water-based infrastructure regimes towards more sustainable, re-use oriented, and productive sanitation. Decentralized approaches to “productive sanitation” (including the production of biogas, fertilizer or water for irrigation) with a source-separation focus (segregation of flow streams with different properties) will allow for considerable cost and resource savings and enable life-cycle economies. In the developing world, the sanitation challenge is about leapfrogging over-engineered sanitation services and technologies, especially for urban areas which are currently without sanitation services, to overcome the huge service backlog. This paper gives an initial overview of the current state of urban sanitation with a North- South perspective, followed by a discussion of the new role of sustainable sanitation systems for cities of the future. Planning innovations for urban sanitation, initial lessons learned and current challenges faced are addressed. Context specific challenges and opportunities are illustrated in a variety of urban settings, from non-tenured, low-income settlements to middle- and high-income inner-city areas.

Keywords: Urban infrastructure; environmental sanitation; productive sanitation; urban sanitation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

    WEF Members: Sign in (right panel) with your IngentaConnect user name and password to receive complimentary access.
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • About WEF Proceedings
  • WEFTEC Conference Information
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more