Multiple criteria decision analysis for sanitation selection in South African municipalities

  • Frances Salisbury
  • Chris Brouckaert
  • Dave Still
  • Chris Buckley
Keywords: VIP ventilated pit latrine, UDDT urine diverting dry toilet, sustainability, eThekwini


A multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA) was developed for the selection of sanitation systems. This decision support system was aimed at assisting municipal engineers to design and implement sustainable solutions to meet a municipality’s obligation to provide free basic sanitation (FBS). Multi-attribute value theory (MAVT) was selected as the method most suited to the problem under consideration. Criteria which determine the sustainability of sanitation were selected from the literature and a spreadsheet-based MCDA with stakeholder and expert user interfaces was developed. Stakeholders determine the weighting of each indicator and expert users determine the values to be entered for the alternatives against each indicator. The partial values are aggregated using a weighted sum function. Research carried out into the implementation of FBS by the eThekwini Municipality that includes the city of Durban was analysed. This informed the allocation of indicator values to the sanitation alternatives under consideration: ventilated improved pit latrines (VIPs) and urine diversion dehydrating toilets (UDDTs). An innovative scenario analysis method was used to determine the effect of different weightings and/or values, representing changes in stakeholder involvement, resource recovery and political support for ecological sanitation. The MCDA was found to provide a guiding framework for municipal engineers in their efforts to implement sustainable sanitation. The process of deriving values for the MCDA is likely to prove even more useful than the overall value scores of the options under consideration.

Keywords: VIP ventilated pit latrine, UDDT urine diverting dry toilet, sustainability, eThekwini


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eISSN: 0378-4738