The need for better understanding of “sociocultural factors”--behaviours and attitudes--is recognized as important to advances in waste disposal and treatment for developing countries. This understanding must include the views of planners and administrators and not merely the recipients of basic services. This paper focuses on issues related to waste reuse in cities. It is argued that there must be more research on informal waste treatment and use as customary practices (e.g. in aquaculture and urban agriculture) may form the basis for integrating reuse into community disposal and treatment. This will require changes in the attitudes of officials who often disregard established practices. Adapting informal waste reuse to urban development will raise difficult policy issues that social and medical research may clarify but will not necessarily resolve. Examples are drawn from Calcutta and Lucknow.

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