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Introduction to New Sanitation Systems, Economies & Markets


About This Course

This MOOC provides an introduction to new sanitation systems, economies and markets, which are driving innovative and multiple value creating approaches to sanitation delivery, sustainability and resilience developed by industry. New sanitation systems thinking leverages new sanitation technologies, circular economy and digitisation approaches that have the potential to transform sanitation access into multiple value creating marketplaces.

Globally 2.3 billion people are without access to safely managed sanitation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 570-million people are without access to safely managed sanitation. As the world seeks to recover better after COVID-19, prioritizing wastewater and sanitation infrastructure in Africa is critical, according to the Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas of Africa 2021. Historical approaches to sanitation provision have been unaffordable for African governments due to the high costs of centralised sanitation infrastructure and the lack of circular thinking. The Sanitation Economy provides a pathway to achieving 100% access to safely managed sanitation for the most vulnerable in African cities (supporting SDG 6) with net positive economics that upgrade the value of sanitation systems.

Modules within the proposed MOOC will cover the theory of change and building blocks of new sanitation systems, economies and markets; new business models and economic models; and the co-benefits that sanitation economy systems present for the low-carbon economy, net positive water stewardship, regenerative agriculture, digital public health approaches and inclusive growth. Course lecturers include sanitation economy, sanitation technology, climate finance and industry experts. The course will be delivered in English with French subtitles.


This is an introductory course. There are no previous certifications or requirements for this course.

Course Staff

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Cheryl Hicks

Cheryl is a corporate sustainability professional and sanitation economy expert with 20 years of global experience. She established the Sanitation Economy vision and founded the Sanitation Economy Accelerator Programme as the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC)’s inaugural Executive Director and CEO 2015-2020. Cheryl is a Senior Advisor to the United Nations Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate and WASH4Work industry water and sanitation initiatives. Cheryl serves on several boards and advisory committees related to water and sanitation, health and impact investments globally.

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Jay Bhagwan

Jay is a water services and sanitation research, development and innovation specialist who has focused on the management of water and wastewater in industrial, mining and domestic use sectors for the past 30 years. He has led several diverse research and innovation initiatives which has contributed to shaping practice and influencing national water policy and legislation in South Africa. Jay has held several board level and advisory committee posts on water and sanitation in South Africa and globally. He is amongst the global leaders who have pioneered raising the profiles in the areas of Non-Sewered Sanitation (NSS) and Faecal Sludge Management (FSM). He is the Chair of the IWA Specialist Group on NSS and is the founding Director of the FSMA.

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Valerie Naidoo

Dr Valerie Naidoo completed her PhD at UKZN and has a background in waterborne sanitation, 6 years industrial experience in innovations and product development at Unilever, 6 years experience in research management in the fields of wastewater and decentralised treatment systems and 6 years experience in innovation development and management at the Water Research Commission.

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Cara Tobin

Cara is the Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) Programme Manager and lead scientist for EPFL EssentialTech. She has over 20 years of experience in the water and sanitation sector. Cara is a Senior Technical Expert to the Green Climate Fund and will bring her expertise on financing sanitation projects to this MOOC. After working with UNDP for 10 years in Africa, Cara became a successful entrepreneur focused on financing and scaling up climate and WASH innovations globally. Cara serves as an Expert for Innosuisse and the Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Mass Challenge Switzerland. Cara is a member of the Swiss Water Partnership and a Georgia Tech, Stanford University and EPFL graduate.

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Preyan Arumugam-Nanoolal

Preyan is a Sanitation Scientist with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and a Masters degree in Biology. Her expertise is in the design and performance monitoring of DEWATS (Decentralised Wastewater Treatment Systems), specifically constructed wetlands, and is now an emerging researcher in the technical evaluation of non-sewered sanitation systems. Other research interests include nature-based solutions in water-sensitive cities and building resilience against climate change in vulnerable communities with respect to sanitation services and infrastructure. At the moment, she is focused on developing a certification scheme for SANS 30500:2019 in South Africa, which was identically adopted from ISO 30500:2018. Preyan is also responsible for ISO/SANS 30500 awareness training and is an expert in the ISO PC 305 Working Group. Currently, she is developing a Testing & Innovation Centre at UKZN for sanitation technologies.

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