Community Toilets in Tangerang, Indonesia

Community Toilets in Tangerang, Indonesia

Sunday, February 1, 2009



1. Background

The Low Income Community toilets and gas retrieval initiative, also known as known as the Community Sanitation Centre (CSC) practice, is located in two Indonesian cities –Tangerang and Surabaya. Its aim is to provide water and sanitation facilities to disadvantaged communities in both cities.

The practice, located in an urban slum area in Tangerang city, was initiated in 1999, in a response to the pressures placed on community infrastructure by rapid urbanization. Following the economic crisis of the late nineties, shrinking employment opportunities in rural areas forced many workers to seek work in urban areas. This had significant implications for urban development including the growth of low-income settlements. Many of these settlements developed with inadequate physical infrastructure, such as poor or non-existent roads, water supply, sanitation, housing etc.

2. Key partners

The key organization is:

The Institute for Integrated Social and Economic Development (BEST), a local NGO. BEST has played a significant role in coordinating and managing partners and resources at every stage of development. BEST has also cooperated with international donor agencies and local government authorities to mobilize the necessary financial and technical assistance.

Other partners include various donor agencies, the communities involved and the local toilet operators.

3. Practice

The Institute for Integrated Social and Economic Development (BEST), a local NGO based in Tangerang city, initiated a project to provide community sanitation centres for the poor. BEST had to broaden out the project to include other partners, when raising public funds to initiate the plan proved difficult. Recognizing that there was insufficient public funds and capacity, BEST mobilized resources from non-government, community and international donor partners, within the framework of a public-private partnership.

The three main components of the project are (i) providing toilets and bathrooms, (ii) developing a wastewater treatment plan (gas retrieval project), and (iii) creating employment - local people are employed as toilet operators and construction workers. The important factor in this process is community consultation and participation, which takes place at all stages of project development.

Each CSC services about 350 - 500 users per day. The initial cost to build one CSC ranges from USD 15,000 to USD 18,000. The average annual operation costs range from USD 1,600 to USD 2,400 excluding the periodic maintenance cost.

The scope of the practice has greatly increased over the four years of its implementation. By 2002, 29 Community Sanitation Centres (CSC) had been built in Tangerang and Surabaya with funding provided by international donor agencies and governments. All CSC projects are fully operated and managed by BEST in partnership with the local community.

The success of the CSC project is linked to its ability to address a well defined community need - better sanitation services. Most CSC’s are located in low-income community settlements, which have inadequate water supply and sanitation services.

4. Outcomes

Main outcomes

The main objective of the CSC is to improve community awareness of the importance of sanitation and a healthy lifestyle. Success of the project will be measured by its ability to change community perceptions and behavior towards their environment. Changes have already been noted in some project locations, where communities have been reported to have made use of public toilets, demonstrated a willingness to clean the drainage system and participated in improving the road system, etc. These results indicate that the practice has already achieved some of its objectives.

Impact on the poor

One of the main outcomes of the practice has been the creation of employment opportunities for local people as toilet maintenance operators. Other outcomes include improved physical settlement conditions such as footpaths and public areas, improved community health as a result of no wastewater accumulation, no human excrement discharged directly in local water sources, etc. and local income generating opportunities for small businesses who have opened shops near CSC locations. In addition, the value of the land in areas surrounding CSC’s has increased, transitioning from under-utilized land to productive land. In addition the cost of water has been reduced, with prices of water provided by the CSC’s as much as 60 per cent lower than water vendors. Biogas production for cooking is also possible, but not always available.

5. Sustainability and Replicability

Making the practice financially sustainable is difficult; however, it may be socially and environmentally sustainable. Revenues from the facility only provide for the annual operating costs, excluding periodic maintenance and capital investment. The social and environmental achievements can be sustained for the longer term because of the active community participation, supported by the practice, in planning, construction, operation and maintenance.

This practice is replicable in areas where there is a lack of water supply and sanitation facilities or in poor communities. However, before upscaling the practice, the capacity of facilities provided and the number people served should be considered, otherwise, the needs of the community and the facilities provided might be mismatched.

Pre-requisites for replication include financial resources to fund the initial infrastructure investment (it should be a subsidy); human resources such as a lead organization, technical expert, community development expert; and institutional networks. The previous replication of the practice in other locations indicates that there are no specific policy requirements for replication or upscaling.

6. Lessons learned


The design of the CSC is a main component of its innovation. Each CSC consists of a toilet and a bathroom, wastewater treatment plan and employment creation opportunities for local people working as toilet operators. The active participation of the community from project planning to construction, operation and maintenance also makes this project innovative.

Other lessons and policy issues

The three key operational lessons learned during the implementation of the practice are:

Community participation and participatory planning is essential at all stages of project development and implementation. It ensures that the service provided is developed based on the needs of the community, and that community input in price setting further ensures the service remains affordable.
A third party contribution, in the form of a subsidy, is the best approach to financing the initial investment - that is the building of the CSC’s.
The role of BEST in managing stakeholders and resources and its motivation and dedication to working with the community was key to the success of the project
A last and indirect lesson has been the impact of the National Government’s Decentralization policy on small development projects. Since decentralization, working with local government has become more difficult due to the increased number of agencies that must now be consulted during project. This can impede implementation.

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Executive Summary
Tangerang poster