Decision support system for the provision of emergency sanitation
142Proper provision of sanitation in emergencies is considered a lifesaving intervention. Without access to sanitation, refugees at emergency camps are at a high risk of contracting diseases. Even the most knowledgeable relief agencies have experienced difficulties providing sanitation alternatives in such challenging scenarios. A computer-based decision support system (DSS) was developed to plan a sanitation response in emergencies. The sanitation alternatives suggested by the DSS are based on a sanitation chain concept that considers different steps in the faecal sludge management, from the toilet or latrine to the safe disposal of faecal matters. The DSS first screens individual sanitation technologies using the user’s given input. Remaining sanitation options are then built into a feasible sanitation chain. Subsequently, each technology in the chain is evaluated on a scoring system. Different sanitation chains can later be ranked based on the total evaluation scores. The DSS addresses several deficiencies encountered in the provision of sanitation in emergencies including: the application of standard practices and intuition, the omission of site specific conditions, the limited knowledge exhibited by emergency planners, and the provision of sanitation focused exclusively on the collection step (i.e., just the provision of toilets).