Gather’s platform seeks to set a new standard for measuring sanitation.
By acceptable sanitation, we mean three key things:
1) The waste is stored, collected and processed safely so that it doesn't become a health hazard
2) The toilet meets the needs and aspirations of the people using it
3) The sanitation meets the guidelines set out by the Joint Monitoring Programme and Sustainable Development Goal 6.2.
Sanitation can be measured in several different ways. At Gather we consider the entire sanitation chain of a toilet (capture - storage - transport - treatment - reuse) before classifying it as ‘proper’ or ‘acceptable’. For example, building a new toilet is not enough if the waste is going to be collected and illegally dumped into a river which people use for cooking, washing and even drinking.
Acceptable sanitation has to work for the entire community it is based in. One of the most exciting things about the sanitation sector is the constant innovation taking place. New sanitation solutions are created to meet the needs of different communities, whether that be waterless technologies for areas where water is scarce or expensive, different toilet designs for people with mobility issues, or simple pieces of hardware that can be retro-fitted onto existing toilets to make them safer and more hygienic. Fundamentally, the community has to want to use the toilets that are being built. A toilet that people don't want to use because it is dirty, feels unsafe, is difficult to use, or doesn't fit with a community’s cultural or social beliefs around sanitation is worse than no toilet at all. So talking to people, understanding their needs and aspirations around sanitation and then providing a solution that meets these needs is essential.
Gather does subscribe to the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water and Sanitation Supply’s core questions for categorising sanitation. This aligns with the Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 which calls for “achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and ending open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations”. This is measured by the percentage of the population using ‘safely managed sanitation services’. Safely managed sanitation means people using an improved sanitation facility at the household level which is not shared with other households and where excreta is safely disposed in situ or treated off-site. More information on this definition can be found here