Sustainable Sanitation

Sustainable Sanitation


The key objective of the initiative is to strengthen each stage of the FSSM value chain for improved health and environmental outcomes and promotes community engagement in sustainable sanitation.

Background and Objective

Berhampur is the second largest city in Odisha province in India, with a population of nearly 400,000. Historically, the city does not have an underground sewer system and the toilets are connected to septic tanks. There was wide-spread open defecation caused by the absence of adequate toilets, combined with and a lack of awareness by citizens that led to polluted water and environmental damage. The key objective of the initiative is to strengthen each stage of the FSSM value chain for improved health and environmental outcomes and promotes community engagement in sustainable sanitation.

Actions and Implementation

The City has implemented community led, sustainable FSSM practices. It includes infrastructure development, capacity building, adoption of policies and improved monitoring. Women collectives are responsible for the operation and management of community and public toilets, collection, transportation, treatment and reuse of faecal waste. The City of Berhampur contracted 26 Women Self Help Groups, who manage 36 community toilets and are engaged in motivating households for mechanised cleaning of septic tanks. Women collectives have been trained to build and operate community toilets, operate and manage the septage treatment Berhampur has adopted a cost-effective, community-centric, simple technology sustainable model for FSSM. The FSSM services provide a basic user fee. The women’s groups generate additional revenue through extra services, such as kiosks in community toilets, nurseries in treatment plant sites and sale of compost from treated faecal waste. Training of the women groups is funded by State funds. Traditionally, FSSM was a male dominated industry. The women’s groups were initially hesitant to enter this sector and couldn’t see the socio-economic benefits to be gained from the partnership. Another challenge was the perception regarding FSSM as ‘filthy’ work and the stigma associated with it. Education and the prospect of diversified income opportunities helped to address these challenges.

Outcomes and Impacts

Berhampur is the first major city in India to have implemented FSSM focusing on all aspects of the value chain in engaging communities. The initiative not only improved community participation in adopting sustainable FSSM but also promoted women as change agents who help to raise awareness among citizens. Results include: Improved socio-economic status of women especially from urban poor communities increased participation of communities, particularly women’s groups improved water quality better health outcomes for all, especially residents of urban poor communities. 7000 women from urban poor communities have directly benefitted from this partnership through increased individual and household level incomes.


The FSSM program can be easily replicated by cities with similar profiles Other towns in the Odisha province including Balasore, Bhadrak, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack have adopted similar initiatives.


Asia and the Pacific

Start Year



Waste Management

Water & Sanitation


Human Rights

Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Goal 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels