Welcome to the Sanitation Playbook! This toolkit is the intellectual property of NFSSM Alliance which is designed to support you in understanding your sanitation journey and help identify areas of growth.

Sanitation Value Chain

Human waste is contained in an on-site system, possibly together with greywater. Waste is partially treated due to the time it is contained and is known as faecal sludge or septage depending on the system used.

The system is emptied typically by a desludging truck with a vacuum mechanism.

Faecal sludge or septage is transported safely in a closed truck.

Faecal sludge or septage can be treated either at a Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant (FSTP) or co-treated with sewage at a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP)

The treated waste can now be safely reused or disposed.

(Source: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, BMGF, 2010)

With urban centres becoming the increasing movers of economic growth and social stability, they are challenged by poor sanitary conditions casting negative effects on public health, the environment, and the economy. Sanitation ecosystem in its current form needs to particularly focus on city sanitation planning, technology selection, institutional reforms, financial mobilization, decision making and managerial leadership.

This furthers the need for highlighting inclusive Sanitation in all forms so that safe sanitation services are equitably delivered and sustained, prioritizing the services for the urban poor.

  • To understand the urban sanitation challenges, particularly of the urban poor, there is a need to build equity and inclusiveness across planning, designing, implementation, regulatory, monitoring and management levels.
  • This also underlines the need for designing innovative technology options to increase and facilitate access, safety and security of women, aged, differently-abled, transgender groups and other vulnerable groups.
  • Tracking access and usage of equitable sanitation infrastructure and understanding the reasons for inequitable access and variability across the sanitation chain to gain traction towards inclusive sanitation.

  • Develop Inclusive strategies and programs to reach the most vulnerable
  • Focus on informal settlements and marginalised
  • Allocate sufficient funds for investment and O&M
  • Take calculated risks to shift the status quo: start addressing the challenges

  • Address complex problems rather than deliver fixed solutions
  • Allow for diversity of solutions and approaches, focusing on outcomes rather than technologies
  • Focus on innovation, testing and evaluating appraches
  • Facilitate progressive realization, building on what is already in place- embrace incrementalism
  • Recohnise the trade offs that exist along the sanitation service chain

  • Embed sanitation within urban governance using an integrated approach; link to water supply, drainage, solid waste management, paving< affordable housing urban development
  • Leverage urban development, health, education and environmental budgets and savings
  • Estabblish clear roles and responsibilities with accountability and transparency
  • Articulate and build demand and engage with civil society at the grass roots level

  • Integrate Sanitation in Urban planning
  • Clean up city streets; remove unsightly pollution and bad odours
  • Increase resource recovery and resure
  • Reform regulatory policies

(Source: Inclusive Sanitation checklist, NFSSM Alliance)

Sanitation Playbook

This toolkit is designed to help State and City governments start their Sanitation journey and help identify areas of growth and development to improve Sanitation service delivery. This is made possible by codifying knowledge through several case studies compiled from India and across the world, with each study highlighting best practices across key principles highlighted in this toolkit. The playbook also helps identify state/city government's current progress through a self assessment section, to make their journey and experience specifically tailor-made, for them!


This toolkit is designed to help State and City governments start their sanitation journey and help identify areas of growth and development to improve service delivery across sanitation value chain

About us


Sanitation in India presents a complex challenge of ensuring access to toilets for the marginalized but also taking a step further to ensure there are efficient systems in place for treatment and disposal of human waste. With the Swachh Bharat Mission, millions of toilets were constructed across the country to ensure Indians have access to basic sanitation facilities and are on the path to being ODF. However, access to toilets is only a tip of the iceberg of challenges that the sector presents. Today, 1.4 billion Indians defecate 140 kg of excreta each year on average. 80% of this human waste is untreated and finds its way to open ground or water bodies, which in turn to be hazardous to both public health and environment. Lack of strong systems for disposal and treatment of human waste has a disproportionate impact on the lives of the most vulnerable communities who are the first ones to be exposed to untreated waste and the consequences of environmental damage. To ensure the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable, it is crucial for India to go beyond access and start focusing on safer treatment of human waste through Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (inclusive sanitation) – a decentralized solution that enables safe containment, emptying and transportation of faecal sludge and septage to a treatment plant.

The National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (NFSSM) Alliance was formed in 2016 after recognizing the need for collaborative action and a unified voice working closely with the national/state governments and driving the discourse on FSSM and Inclusive Sanitation nationally. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NFSSM Alliance came together with the vision that by 2030, each and every Indian city (all 7900+) safely manage its human waste. With this audacious vision in mind, the NFSSM Alliance brought together 35+ diverse organizations (NGOs, CSOs, Academic Institutions, Think Tanks, etc.) working on Sanitation and its allied sectors from across the country. The NFSSM Alliance works in support from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DWS) played an instrumental role in the passage of India’s first national policy on FSSM in 2017.

The National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Alliance is a national working group focused on fostering Collaborative Action towards safe and sustainable human waste management at the national, state, and city levels. We work with our network of partners in 19+ states to build consensus and encourage discourse on inclusive sanitation in India.

The content and design of this toolkit is a collaborative effort between the NFSSM Alliance and EVALUESERVE.