The Household-Centered Environmental Sanitation (HCES) planning approach was tested for the first time in Nepal in a peri-urban setting during 2009/2011, in order to validate the novel planning approach, identify challenges and improve the process. The participatory multi-stakeholder process involved household mapping and surveys, user needs identification and prioritization and a stakeholder assessment. Following an expert's assessment of potential sanitation options, community sensitization campaigns through exposure visits, a sanitation bazaar and focused community interactions were conducted. Among the three sanitation alternatives, users showed strong preference to set up a simplified sewerage system with a decentralized wastewater treatment. The paper critically discusses the key challenges faced when developing environmental sanitation plans. Setting the right balance between empowering people to take informed decisions and keeping the participation process intact until the final stage was a major challenge. Although participatory planning is time consuming, it is worth investing as it builds local ownership and assists in informed decision-making processes for selecting affordable sanitation options that best meet user's needs.

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