Review of global sanitation development




Zhou, Xiaoqin
Li, Zifu
Zheng, Tianlong
Yan, Yichang
Li, Pengyu
Odey, Emmanuel Alepu
Mang, Heinz Peter
Uddin, Sayed Mohammad Nazim

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Environment International


The implementation of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has resulted in an increased focus on developing innovative, sustainable sanitation techniques to address the demand for adequate and equitable sanitation in low-income areas. We examined the background, current situation, challenges, and perspectives of global sanitation. We used bibliometric analysis and word cluster analysis to evaluate sanitation research from 1992 to 2016 based on the Science Citation Index EXPANDED (SCI-EXPANDED) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) databases. Our results show that sanitation is a comprehensive field connected with multiple categories, and the increasing number of publications reflects a strong interest in this research area. Most of the research took place in developed countries, especially the USA, although sanitation problems are more serious in developing countries. Innovations in sanitation techniques may keep susceptible populations from contracting diseases caused by various kinds of contaminants and microorganisms. Hence, the hygienization of human excreta, resource recovery, and removal of micro-pollutants from excreta can serve as effective sustainable solutions. Commercialized technologies, like composting, anaerobic digestion, and storage, are reliable but still face challenges in addressing the links between the political, social, institutional, cultural, and educational aspects of sanitation. Innovative technologies, such as Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs), Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MECs), and struvite precipitation, are at the TRL (Technology readiness levels) 8 level, meaning that they qualify as “actual systems completed and qualified through test and demonstration.” Solutions that take into consideration economic feasibility and all the different aspects of sanitation are required. There is an urgent demand for holistic solutions considering government support, social acceptability, as well as technological reliability that can be effectively adapted to local conditions.



Sanitation, Bibliometric analysis, Research hotspots, Gaps, Challenges


Zhou, X., Li, Z., Xheng, T. Yan, Y., Li, P. Odey, E.A. Mang, H.P. & Uddin, A.M.N. (2018). Review of global sanitation development. Environment International, 120, 246-261.