SANIMAS (Sanitasi oleh Masyarakat) or Sanitation by Community is a nation-wide sanitation program for urban poor settlements in Indonesia and has already been implemented since 2003. Population density in urban settlement range between 600 to more than 1000 people per square km, which provides no room for proper sanitation infrastructures. The decentralized, communal, community-managed and cluster wise approach to solve sanitation problems in such high density has many types of challenges: technical, environmental, social and financial. Therefore there is the need to have concerted efforts for a careful yet reliable, high quality standard design, good supervision, sustainable operation and maintenance, as well as for continual monitoring and improvements.

In the past, water and sanitation facilities in urban poor settlements were built for quantity and appearance not for quality and performance. As a result most of the infrastructures collapse and disfunction only a couple of months after the construction has been handed over to the community. Leaking or bottomless septic tanks are usually the reality and lack of maintenance is a common problem as no community committee is assigned to oversee or monitor the facilities.

As a national program, SANIMAS is implemented in more than 70 urban poor community clusters or approximately 8,000-10,000 people every year which previously identified as unserved population. It is implemented in sequences of activities and accomplished only by good team work, guided by standardized steps. All team members, coordinators, field facilitators, technical team, relevant government officers and community committees must build and maintain good coordination and communication.

Several capacity building packages are designed for and delivered to different groups to ensure that implementation steps are understood by the relevant team members. Various training modules are developed and delivered to technical teams, senior facilitators, field facilitators and community committees. Each training aims at communicating the minimum standard activities required to accomplish the program.

To ensure that facilities serve their function in a sustainable way, a monthly community participatory monitoring has been designed. That way technical, environmental, financial and institutional aspect is mainly monitored by the community in assistance of team members. The monitoring results are used as inputs for improvement, local policy development and strategy. This paper shows that through the decentralised sanitation approach, a sustainable sanitation service for the poor is possible.

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