This paper sets out findings from WaterAid's research in East Asian states on the political economy of sanitation and hygiene services that delivered total coverage within a generation. The purpose of this research is not to claim blueprints for success; the specifics of each case show the contextual nature of sanitation transformation. However, the intention is to galvanise and frame the emerging dialogue in the sanitation and hygiene sectors in how to achieve the necessary radical 'step-change' in progress, to deliver universal access to services by 2030.
- Based on findings from Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand in delivering total sanitation coverage, high-level political leadership was critical and did not stem from community-driven demand.
- Hygiene, cleanliness, and public health aims drove sanitation improvement.
- Capacity building happened alongside sanitation improvement.
- The vision of total sanitation coverage came before attaining levels of national wealth, and reaching a threshold of per capita GDP was not decisive in the strategic choice to deliver total sanitation coverage
- Some element of subsidy was included, but alongside demand creation and was often indirect.
- Monitoring was continuous, with feedback loops to revise methods, raise standards, and build new reforms as goals were achieved.