About the SSWM Toolbox

Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management Toolbox...

...an integrative tool for capacity development on the local level



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Water resources are under increasing pressure. Population growth and urbanisation, rapid industrialisation, expanding and intensifying agricultural production, and increasing demand of water for industry and energy production are all putting pressure on water resources. Climate change exacerbates the problem.
This development leads to water scarcity and conflicts worldwide
 and seriously undermines progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Although water is scarce, it is often used in an unsustainable way: different stakeholders (water suppliers, industry, agriculture, households, sewage managers, etc.) frequently fulfil their needs without taking into account the impact on others. This lack of coordination causes overexploitation and wastage. Once used, proper treatment and reuse of wastewater is worldwide rather an exception than a norm. Essentially, this leads to the contamination of ecosystems, a lack of nutrients and soil degradation in agriculture, and negatively influences food security.

Single sector approaches such as wastewater treatment or river basin management are too limited. To save and recycle water, regain resources and protect ecosystems, the whole water cycle needs to be considered in an integrated, holistic approach. We need to link up reuse-oriented sanitation with water resources manage- ment and agriculture.


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The Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management Toolbox considers the entire water cycle from source to sea, and back. It focuses on the human influence on the water and nutrient cycle and presents solutions for a sustainable use, treatment and reuse of water resources at the local level, thereby linking water management, sanitation and agriculture. The Toolbox helps in finding answers to the following core question: With what kind of processes, measures or tools can I optimise my local sanitation and water management system and make it more sustainable?

Hundreds of well-established approaches and good practice examples exist. Yet, searching for a special case or tool to optimise water and wastewater use is long and arduous, and it is easy to lose oversight and get lost in details.

The SSWM Toolbox allows users to find all relevant information and plan their approaches, while keeping a holistic approach in mind. It combines process and planning tools, software and technological approaches, and links them with publications, articles and weblinks, case studies, training material and ready-to-use presentations for download.


Today, the SSWM Toolbox is the most comprehensive collection of tools and approaches on water management and sustainable sanitation.

  • It follows a holistic and cross-sectoral approach: Following a sustainability concept, the SSWM Toolbox enables you to find tools and approaches that allow for closing the water and nutrient cycle at the local level, thereby linking water management, sanitation and agriculture.
  • It addresses and integrates different stakeholders: SSWM aims at bringing together all stakeholders that are concerned with a respective problem at the local level: decision makers, NGOs, households, water users, etc.
  • It contains understandable and manageable contents: The Toolbox breaks down a complex matter so it is easy to grasp - but remains comprehensive.
  • It is user and problem specific: The SSWM Toolbox allows you to get a sound understanding of the local water and sanitation situation and to find specific approaches and tools for a respective problem.
  • It has a high standard and pedagogic approach: The SSWM Toolbox follows a specifically developed pedagogic approach and guarantees a high standard - all references, further readings, training material, etc., are revised and summarised. It can be used both to get a broad overview and to dig deep into the subject.
  • It links planning, software and technology: The SSWM Toolbox gives equal importance to software (behavioural change approaches) and technical tools and allows you to go through a complete planning process.
  • It provides ready-to-use and adjustable material: The SSWM Toolbox contains ready-to-use course material for organisations that wish to carry out their own courses, and even a section on how to train trainers.


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The SSWM Toolbox is particularly useful for water practitioners at the local level. However, it can also be used as an excellent and comprehensive information pool for students and as a ready-made training tool for international organisations and all those working within the water sector, i.e.:

  • NGOs from the sanitation, water and agriculture sectors
  • Community based organisations
  • Local decision makers
  • Environmental agencies
  • International organisations (for education and training)
  • Students
  • Businesses and industrial actors


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The Toolbox structures ‘the best of’ the available material that support users for a more holistic planning and implementation of water and sanitation interventions. It contains seven main sections:

Moreover, seecon and its partnering organisations also offer tailor-made training courses and workshops in the field of SSWM upon request to sswm@seecon.ch.

In each of these content areas, you will find factsheets for each topic, including an executive summary, a description of the respective tool or approach, its applicability, and advantages and disadvantages. The factsheets give a comprehensive but concise overview on the topic, completed with advice for further readings and websites, case studies, and training and awareness raising material.
Furthermore, the SSWM Toolbox contains:

  • A library of open source documents, including general reading material, training material, manuals or handbooks, case studies, awareness raising material and methods in various languages.
  • An extensive glossary of technical and specific terms, instantly accessible.
  • A comprehensive and annotated weblink list which links the user to tools and related organisations.


The Toolbox follows an open source concept. To read more about this, go to credits.



This Toolbox has been realised by seecon in cooperation with a number of partners:

sswm partners 2010

...linking up Sustainable Sanitation, Water Management & Agriculture!


All images on this page by K. CONRADIN

Further Readings

Reference icon

SEECON (Editor) (2012): SSWM Toolbox Flyer. Basel: seecon international gmbh.

The SSWM Toolbox Flyer is created in order inform users and partners on what the SSWM Toolbox is. The flyer gives a deeper insight about the six main sections of the toolbox (Concept & Background, Planning & Process Tools, Understand your System, Hardware & Software, Specific Topics, and Glossary & Library).

Reference icon

SEECON (Editor) (2012): SSWM Toolbox Poster. Basel: seecon international gmbh.

The SSWM Toolbox Poster is created in order inform users and partners on what the SSWM Toolbox is. The poster gives a quick overview about the six main sections of the toolbox (Concept & Background, Planning & Process Tools, Understand your System, Hardware & Software, Specific Topics, and Glossary & Library).