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From: Sanitation – Footsteps 73

How to promote and support safe sanitation for all

The Democratic Republic of Congo, a country coming out of a long war, faces many challenges, including that of improving the living conditions of its population through the promotion of sanitation and hygiene. Studies suggest that fewer than one in ten people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have adequate access to sanitation and hygiene.


A latrine in a school in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: PPSSP

A latrine in a school in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: PPSSP

The Primary Health Care Promotion Programme (Programme de Promotion des Soins de Santé Primaires – PPSSP) carried out a study in collaboration with Tearfund and the Overseas Development Institute to find out why so few people in DRC have access to sanitation. The study explored the issues that hinder progress at both national and local levels. At national level, we researched national policies and institutions. At local level we carried out focus groups to identify the influences on people’s attitudes and behaviour.

Issues for public policy

The first thing that some people think of when sanitation is discussed is a latrine. However, sanitation is wider than that. UNESCO and the World Bank define sanitation as ‘Maintaining clean, hygienic conditions that help prevent disease.’

Using this definition, activities relating to sanitation include:


The research found many factors that hinder the promotion of sanitation and hygiene. These include:

A ray of hope

PPSSP have been using the findings of this study to raise the profile of the sanitation problem in DRC. We have advocated for improved policies and practice. We presented the findings to a group of decision-makers at a workshop in Kivu province, and there are signs of positive change.

The authors work for the PPSSP (Programme de Promotion des Soins de Santé Primaires), which is a consortium of Tearfund partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Email: For the full report of the study Sanitation and hygiene in developing countries: identifying and responding to barriers, visit:
where it can be downloaded in English or French, or email: to request a paper copy in English.

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