Sustainable Sanitation Alliance

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Logo of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance

The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) is a loose network of organizations who are "working along the same lines towards achieving sustainable sanitation".[1] It began its work in 2007, one year before the United Nation's International Year of Sanitation in 2008. The intention of creating SuSanA was to have a joint "label" for the planned activities for 2008 and to align the various organizations for further initiatives.

SuSanA's vision document contains a definition of sustainable sanitation which was developed by SuSanA partners in 2007.[2] There are currently nearly 300 SuSanA partner organizations and 8000 individual members.[3][4] All prospective new SuSanA partner organizations have to agree to the vision document when they join.

SuSanA is not an NGO (non-governmental organization). It has no legal structure and takes no membership fees. It encourages other organizations to join the network and to become active members in the thematic working groups.

The SuSanA secretariat is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development which has commissioned the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for this task. Other SuSanA partners make contributions for example by paid time of their staff members.


SuSanA members at 18th SuSanA meeting in Stockholm, Sweden
SuSanA members at the 13th SuSanA meeting in Kigali, Rwanda in 2011
SuSanA booth at AfricaSan in Kigali, Rwanda in 2011
Uschi Eid (UNSGAB) at SuSanA seminar at AfricaSan in Kigali, Rwanda in 2011
Presentation by one of the founding fathers, Roland Schertenleib, at SuSanA core group and key stakeholder meeting in Eschborn, Germany in 2013
Meeting of one of the SuSanA working groups at 16th SuSanA meeting in Stockholm, Sweden

SuSanA's goal was to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) until 2015, and to the Sustainable Development Goals since 2015, by promoting sanitation systems which take into consideration the five major aspects of sustainability, i.e. (i) health and hygiene, (ii) environmental and natural resources, (iii) technology and operation, (iv) finance and economics and (v) socio-cultural and institutional.

Since 2007, SuSanA has held 23 meetings in different locations around the world. Each year one meeting takes place before or after the World Water Week in Stockholm, and a further meeting usually takes place in the Global South, connected to another WASH event. SuSanA also organises side events, seminars and working group meetings in conjunction with other major WASH conferences.

SuSanA is one of several knowledge management platform in the WASH sector such as the LinkedIn Discussion Group "Community of Practice on Sanitation and Hygiene in Developing Countries" by WSSCC, Blue Planet, International Water Association (IWA), Akvopedia and others.[5]

Thematic working groups[edit]

SuSanA has 13 thematic working groups covering areas of sustainable sanitation where conceptual and knowledge management work is required:[6]

  1. Capacity development
  2. Market development
  3. Renewable energies and climate change
  4. Sanitation systems, technology options, hygiene and health - includes hand washing
  5. Food security and productive sanitation systems (reuse of excreta)
  6. Cities and planning
  7. Community, rural and schools (with gender and social aspects) - includes community-led total sanitation
  8. Emergency and reconstruction situations
  9. Public Awareness, advocacy and civil society engagement
  10. Operation and maintenance
  11. Groundwater protection - includes groundwater pollution issues
  12. WASH and nutrition - includes issues on malnutrition
  13. Behavior change

Partner organizations[edit]

SuSanA has nearly 300 partner organizations.[3] The partners are of the following types: Local NGO, International NGO, private sector, research and education, governmental / state-owned organization, multi-lateral organizations, associations and networks and others.[7] All SuSanA partner organizations have to agree to SuSanA's vision document before joining.

A network analysis study conducted in 2014 assessed the SuSanA network by examining the communication channels used and the quality of relationships among partners.[8] It found that "SuSanA partners have strong levels of trust, cooperation and information exchange with one another". However, partners seem to have low diversity of relationships with partners in different economic zones, such as developing countries versus developed countries.[8] Many of the partners use their membership primarily to receive information from the discussion forum.[8]

Individual members[edit]

Individuals can join as members and there are currently 8000 members.[4]

Funding sources[edit]

SuSanA has no legal structure, budget nor income. Partners contribute time and resources from their own budgets. The SuSanA secretariat is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) who has commissioned the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Since the end of 2012 and until the end of 2019, co-funding for the online Discussion Forum is being provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.[7][9][10] Several active core group partners, for example SEI, seecon, BORDA, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, IWA, WASTE have also funded various travel costs of SuSanA members, seminars, the printing of SuSanA publications and so forth.[7]


The activities of the SuSanA network have contributed to increasing awareness about sustainability in the sanitation sector. SuSanA members helped to shape the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals where Goal Number 6 now includes a goal of universal use of sustainable sanitation services that protect public health and dignity. Other actors have picked up on the theme of innovative sanitation (often with reuse of excreta in some form), most notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Sustainable sanitation has become a topic in the nexus (water, energy, food) dialogue as well as in the WASH and nutrition theme.[citation needed]

Challenges and difficulties[edit]

SuSanA has been criticized by some in the WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) sector for a perceived dominance of the ecosan theme in SuSanA. This is due to the strong focus of two of its founding organizations on ecosan: Stockholm Environment Institute and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Others have criticised SuSanA for being too focussed on technologies and sanitation systems (rather than on non-technical issues); that it is too dominated by people from the Global North; too dominated by GIZ who leads the secretariat; and too theoretical and far removed from the realities on the ground.

SuSanA has no regional nodes, offices or secretariats. It also has limited impact so far in the non-English speaking parts of the world, notably Latin America, Russia or Central Asia.

The SuSanA core group has reacted to these criticisms by defining a mission statement in 2014, a roadmap for 2013 onwards and by hosting an open discussion forum where such issues can be discussed.[7] Recommendations made in 2014 to the SuSanA network for its future development and to further develop relationships among partners include: Continue to hold meetings in different locations around the world, establish regional nodes, re-activate the working groups, and create more active members through engagement.[8]


SuSanA started in January 2007 with a first meeting in Eschborn, Germany at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, an international enterprise owned by the German Federal Government. GIZ agreed to host SuSanA's secretariat and has been doing so since 2007. The reason why SuSanA was started in 2007 was to prepare for the International Year of Sanitation in 2008, and to align the organizations active in sustainable sanitation.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FAQ". Sustainable Sanitation Alliance. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  2. ^ SuSanA (2008). Towards more sustainable sanitation solutions - SuSanA Vision Document. Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA)
  3. ^ a b "Partners". Sustainable Sanitation Alliance. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Discussion forum statistics". Discussion Forum. Sustainable Sanitation Alliance. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  5. ^ Cranston, P. (2014). Knowledge Management and Building Demand for Sanitation. Final report from a consultancy assignment for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) program, Euforic Services, Oxford, UK
  6. ^ "Overview of the working groups". Sustainable Sanitation Alliance. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d SuSanA (2014). A standard set of Powerpoint slides to explain SuSanA. SuSanA Secretariat, located at GIZ, Eschborn, Germany
  8. ^ a b c d Saffer, Adam (2014). "Sustainable Relationships within the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance: SuSanA Network Analysis Report". University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, USA. 
  9. ^ Elisabeth von Muench, Dorothee Spuhler, Trevor Surridge, Nelson Ekane, Kim Andersson, Emine Goekce Fidan, Arno Rosemarin (2013) Sustainable Sanitation Alliance members take a closer look at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s sanitation grants, Sustainable Sanitation Practice Journal, Issue 17, p. 4-10
  10. ^ "Sustainable Sanitation Alliance: Grant of $2.7 million to supercharge sustainable sanitation knowledge platform". Sanitation Updates. 4 November 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "SuSanA's milestones and impacts during 2007 - 2017 (by SuSanA members and Thilo Panzerbieter)". Recording of a presentation at the 10th SuSanA anniversary in Eschborn, Germany on 17 January 2017 (youtube video). Retrieved 14 April 2017. 

External links[edit]

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