Workshop 1



  • Rémi de Bercegol

Geographer – Urbanist (CNRS, PRODIG, Paris) 

Invited tutors:

  • Anju Diwedi

Anthropologist (Sci-Fi team, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi)

  • Ambarish Karunanith Ambar

Engineer (Sci-Fi team, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi) 

  • Chloé Leclerc

Economist – Statistician (GATE-Lyon-Saint Etienne, Lyon; CSH, New Delhi)

  • Arkaja Singh

Lawyer (Sci-Fi team, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi)

  • Lucas Dengel

Doctor (Neutral development, EcoPro) 

  • Abhinav Vinayakh Shankar Narayan

Assistant (Neutral development, EcoPro) 


After declaring 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation, the United Nations General Assembly officially recognized in 2010 access to drinking water and sanitation as a human right. Sanitation is thus of growing interest to policy makers and economists and is an expending research field. To understand the complexity of sanitation challenges, social scientists usually use different type of data, which requires the mobilization of specific knowledge.

The objective of this panel is to characterize the specificities of sanitation experiences in towns and cities of the global South. It aims at developing a research agenda for analysing critically the strategies currently in place to universalize the service to all, and for apprehending the emergence of alternative models, which could also contribute to this universalization.

For this, relying on examples taken from Africa and Asia with a focus on India, we will re-read the history of sanitation models, from the western sanitary ideal of the XIX century to its segregated post-colonial effects. We will examine the cultural aspects of the taboos surrounding the sectors to explain its relegation and its societal consequences. We will critically look at centralized sanitation policies, within a broader governance framework to explain its successes and failures, and the existence of alternatives offers. Non-state actors are indeed proposing solutions to households to compensate the absence of public service, whether they be sellers of toilets, sanitary block managers or pit service providers. We will examine the reinforcement of these private and civil experiences, often informal but far from being unorganized. This will lead us to question a potential paradigm shift from a model based on conventional centralized sewer lines, towards others solutions that can be decentralized or off-grid solutions, sometimes constructed on low-cost technologies and mostly based on market logics.

What are these systems and why are they being looked at a potential solution to expand sanitation services? Who are these non-state actors implementing them? Where, and how, are they involved in the urban sanitation market? To what extent do their offers adapt to the economic conditions of households and urban dynamics in developing cities? More generally, what are the strengths and limitations of this non-public approaches? How do these initiatives contribute to the renewal of public sanitation policies?

By questioning the strengths and limitations of these systems, we wish to understand not only their contribution but also their political meaning for the expansion of a heterogeneous right to sanitation for all in an unequal city. In a final stage, we will develop a research agenda for sanitation aiming at a better articulation between public action, private sector and civil experiences. At the end of the course the students will have understood what still needs to be done in this field, as well as the limitations of survey data to study these questions and how to overcome them.

The course will combine interactive lecture sessions and tutorials over the three days. In the lecture sessions students will be exposed to the research frontier in the field of social and geographical mobility.  


Centre for Policy Research (Sci-Fi Team), Technical University of Darmstadt, University of Kisumu, Ardhi University, Ecole Normale Supérieure (Lyon), Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (Prodig et Géographie-Cités)

Readings and online resources

General academic articles (with free access)

Ban, Radu, Monica Das Gupta, and Vijayendra Rao. 2010. The Political Economy of Village Sanitation in South India: Capture or Poor Information? The Journal of Development Studies 46, no. 4 (2010): 685–700.

Coutard, O. 2008. Placing Splintering Urbanism: Introduction, Geoforum, 39, 1815-1820.

Duflo, Esther, Sebastian Galiani, and Mushfiq Mobarak. Improving Access to Urban Services for the Poor. 2012. Review Paper. Urban Services Initiative. Cambridge, MA: Abdul Lateef Jameel Poverty Action Lab.

Marie-Hélène Zérah, Véronique Dupont, Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal, Unesco, France, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust (eds). 2011. Urban Policies and the Right to the City in India: Rights, Responsibilities and Citizenship. New Delhi: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Centre de Sciences Humaines.

McGranahan, Gordon. 2015. Realizing the Right to Sanitation in Deprived Urban Communities: Meeting the Challenges of Collective Action, Coproduction, Affordability, and Housing Tenure. World Development 68(1): 242–53.

Monstadt, J., Schramm, S. 2017. Toward the networked city? Translating technological ideals and planning models in water and sanitation systems in Dar es Salaam. In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (in press), DOI:10.1111/1468-2427.12436.

Shubhagato Dasgupta, Rémi de Bercegol, Odile Henry, Brian O’Neill, Franck Poupeau, Audrey Richard-Ferroudji, and Marie-Hélène Zérah. 2016. Water Regimes Questioned from the Global South: Agents, Practices and Knowledge, 2016.

Policy/practitioner oriented (with free access)

Mitlin, Diana. 2014. Towards an Inclusive Urban Planning and Practice. Claiming the City Civil Society Mobilisation by the Urban Poor, 15.

Dasgupta, Shubhagato, Kimberley Noronha. 2016. Monitoring Open Discharge-Free India. CPR Research Report. New Delhi: Centre for Policy Research.

Zimmer, A. Fragmented governance, divided cities: The need for an integrated view on urban waste water: A Case Study of Delhi. South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, 10, 9-13.

Engineering oriented

Centre for Science and Environment Decentralised Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Case studies of implementation on different scale – community, institutional and individual building, 2014

 Mehta, Lyla, and Synne Movik. Liquid Dynamics: Challenges for Sustainability in the Water Domain. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water 1, no. 4 (July 1, 2014): 369–84.

Thebo, A. .L, P. Drechsel, E. F. Lambin, and K. L. Nelson. 2017. A Global, Spatially-Explicit Assessment of Irrigated Croplands Influenced by Urban Wastewater Flows. Environmental Research Letters 12, no. 7 (July 1): 074008.

Further readings (not necessary for the workshop)

Sijbesma, Christine, Meine Pieter van Dijk. 2006. Water and Sanitation: Institutional Challenges in India.

Harriss-White, Barbara. 2017. Matter in Motion: Work and Livelihoods in India’s Economy of Waste. In Critical Perspectives on Work and Employment in Globalizing India, by Ernesto Noronha and Premilla D’Cruz. Springer.

Chaplin, Susan E. 2011. The Politics of Sanitation in India: Cities, Services and the State. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2011.

Swyngedouw, Erik. 1999. Modernity and Hybridity: Nature, Regeneracionismo, and the Production of the Spanish Waterscape, 1890–1930. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 89, no. 3 (September 1, 1999): 443–65.

Laporte, Dominique. 2000. History of Shit. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Yojana 59, January 2015:


Methodological approaches in social sciences

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