Monitoring sanitation coverage using a more appropriate method will have added benefits in the sanitation sector compared with the tool currently deployed by the Joint Monitoring Programme – the sanitation ladder. Although the present sanitation ladder is a simple and generally accepted tool for monitoring it does not consider the environmental and public health risks associated with some sanitation technologies. This paper uses data gathered from three communities in Sri Lanka to illustrate the shortcomings of the current method compared with a new and more comprehensive methodology developed and known as the sanitation index for monitoring (SIM). Available literature, focus group discussions, questionnaire surveys, and field observations were used to select indicator variables and score levels for the new index. Indicator variables and score levels were defined under two categories to create two sub-indices namely the ‘latrine security and hygiene’ and ‘treatment and disposal’. Twelve combinations of two sub-indices provide the final sanitation index for each community. The new SIM correctly assesses the real situation with regard to performance of a range of sanitation technologies over the full sanitation value chain and has the potential to improve sanitation monitoring worldwide.

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