Improving understanding of urban sanitation

SFDs are a new way of visualizing excreta management in cities and towns


The fate of excreta produced by urban populations across the globe is often poorly understood. Particularly in low- and middle-income with rapidly expanding cities, excreta management represents a growing challenge; generating significant negative public health and environmental risks.

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What is an SFD?

An excreta flow diagram (also often described as shit flow diagram, SFD) is a tool to readily understand and communicate visualizing how excreta physically flows through a city or town. It shows how excreta is or is not contained as it moves from defecation to disposal or end-use, and the fate of all excreta generated. An accompanying report describes the service delivery context of the city or town.


Purpose of an SFD

SFDs are a useful tool to inform urban sanitation programming. They offer an innovative way to engage city stakeholders like political leaders, sanitation experts and civil society organizations in a coordinated dialogue about excreta management. They can also be used for advocacy.

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Discover SFDs Worldwide

As sanitation practitioners and city officials recognize how effective SFDs are in engaging and stimulating dialogue on excreta management to achieve better sanitation, the number of SFDs being prepared all over the world will increase rapidly.

Consortium Partners

The SFD Promotion Initiative is managed by GIZ under the umbrella of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA).
Since November 2014, GIZ the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting the initiative through two grants (2014-2015 & 2016-2018).

Partners of the Promotion Initiative
The Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi (CSE);
the Global Sector Program on Sustainable Sanitation of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ GmbH)
commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ);
the Department of Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development (Sandec)
at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag);
the water@leeds research group of the University of Leeds (UoL);
the Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) of Loughborough University,
and the World Bank - Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).