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Coastal climate impact analysis and sanitation hazard assesment framework

This handbook provides stepwise guidance for facilitating authorities responsible for citywide sanitation services to develop an adaptive action plan for ensuring the resilience of their city’s sanitation services to the impacts of sea level rise.


This document lays out the process whereby urban sanitation stakeholders use available data and their tacit knowledge to systematically identify sea level risks and ultimately generate an action plan for managing the risks. The handbook accommodates data-scarce settings and does not require sophisticated modelling techniques. It is intended for government authorities involved in city sanitation planning and implementation, and international agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) who may provide the resources to support governments in developing resilient sanitation services.

This article is abridged from the original text in the report Coastal climate impact analysis and sanitation hazard assessment framework which can be downloaded from the right hand column. Please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text. 

Methods and Tools

Image: Guidance from handbook to map wasteflows and sanitation  Credit: UTS-ISF, Universitas Indonesia and Habitat for Humanity Fiji. 

The handbook is structured as a sequence of steps to be carried out by a facilitation team with the relevant city stakeholders as participants. It can also be used by a planning team to step through the activities as they collect information and progress their sanitation servicing plans.

The first phase is a set of preparation tasks, followed by three phases that could be facilitated in a larger workshop with representatives from a range of organisations. There are four distinct phases with associated tools and processes:

  1. data and information collection
  2. situation analysis
  3. understanding and monitoring the impacts
  4. planning the adaptive response.

Each phase has several steps with its own section that describes its purpose, time and resources needed, expected outcomes and outputs, and instructions for carrying out activities.

The four phases of the handbook and their respective steps.

Outcomes and Impacts

  • By the end of the process, workshop participants should understand the key risks sea level rise poses for urban sanitation services in priority areas of the city, and list of near-, middle- and long-term actions that can be taken to strengthen the resilience of sanitation to sea level rise.

The expected outcomes and outputs are highlighted for each of the four phases:

1. Data and information collection:

The users and facilitators will gain an improved understanding of sanitation in the city, including: 

  • The overall sanitation context;
  • The institutional landscape (the various players in the sanitation servicing sector, their roles and functions); 
  • The sanitation infrastructure (by completing a Shit Flow Diagram (SFD) and a map of the sanitation infrastructure system);
  • Climate Change scenarios that are relevant to the sanitation context, specifically sea level rise and rainfall changes;
  • They will use the information above to create flood maps that provide useful information for identifying high-risk priority areas.
Worksheet tool used for institutional mapping

2. Situation Analysis: 

By the end of the second phase, the users and facilitators will:

  • Visualise institutional landscape, including the spread of expertise across the participants regarding sanitation and climate change;
  • Understand the projected climate change impacts, specifically sea level rise and rainfall;
  • Understand the city wastewater management flow and identify health risks;
  • Make a list of priority areas within the city that will be focused on for the rest of the workshop.

3. Understanding and monitoring the impacts:

In this phase, users and facilitators will map cause and effect and document indicators of change. As a result, they will: 

  • Gain an understanding of the key impacts and risks from sea level rise to sanitation that must be managed and how they cause further risks upstream of the direct impact;
  • Complete a table with an indicator for each of the identified impacts (where possible), the possible thresholds for action (this may not be possible in the workshop without technical knowledge), who is responsible for collecting the data, and with whom the results should be shared.

4. Planning the adaptive response: 

The aim of this phase is to delve into possible intervention plans and adaptation options in order to develop clear action plans for the city. They will do so by:

  • Listing adaptation options for each priority location;
  • Ranking options that provide the best net benefit;
  • Developing an investment plan for implementing a range of adaptations for each priority area.
  • Preparing a clear plan on whose responsibility it is to do what actions, to ensure accountability; AND a plan for integrating the adaptation plans from this process into the broader sanitation servicing planning process.

Examples of Adaptation Options

Below are a range of adaptation options that could be implemented to support more climate resilient sanitation:

Clear institutional responsibilities and flexible management and service delivery arrangements

  • Greater coordination between central, regional, provincial, NGO and other organisations working in sanitation and/or climate change.
  • Clarify responsibilities between sanitation service delivery authorities versus disaster response authorities when preparing for and responding to climate impacts on sanitation.
  • Plan for scheduled desludging before the beginning of the wet season.
  • Conduct training to build the capacity of local government sanitation stakeholders on climate change impacts and possible response options.
  • Establish regional climate working groups as a centre for climate knowledge, data and support. Ensure their scope includes sanitation and its interlinkages with other sectors.

Risk- and vulnerability-informed planning and decision-making

  • Consider climate risk in an ongoing review of city sanitation strategies.
  • Increase sharing and access to data between agencies that can inform risk and vulnerability assessments.
  • Review and/or adapt building permits to require that sanitation facilities are raised above average flood levels and areas prone to high storm surges.
  • If there is a regional action plan for climate change, integrate sanitation into climate action priorities.

Maintaining capacity for continual adaptation through monitoring evaluation and learning

  • Support sanitation service providers to monitor weather conditions so they can prepare their services accordingly.
  • Monitor incidences of diarrhoea and the practice of open defecation following extreme weather events.
  • Conduct periodic reviews of sanitation infrastructure to learn how they are affected by climate hazards.
  • Develop a database of on-site sanitation facilities to identify priority on-site improvement in high-risk locations and facilitate proactive or preventative emptying.
  • Regularly monitor the water quality of water supplies and recreational water bodies during high and low rainfall periods to identify critical sanitation/water interaction and assess the influence of climate on treatment and disposal services.

Suggested citation

UTS-ISF, Universitas Indonesia and Habitat for Humanity Fiji (2023) Coastal Climate Impact Analysis and Sanitation Hazard Assessment Framework. Prepared for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.Published by University of Technology Sydney – Institute for Sustainable Futures.

Suggested Citation:

UTS-ISF, Universitas Indonesiaand Habitat for Humanity Fiji(2023) Coastal Climate Impact Analysis and Sanitation Hazard Assessment Framework. Prepared for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.Published by University of Technology Sydney – Institute for Sustainable Futures.

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