We apply private-sector analysis and approaches to encourage market-based delivery of sanitation products and services.
Globally, 2.5 billion people lack access to a sanitary toilet, which contributes to 1.5 million deaths from diarrheal diseases among children every year – more than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined. Furthermore, not having a safe place to defecate puts women and children at risk of assault, and the lack of privacy exposes females in particular to shame and embarrassment.
Poverty and cultural norms around open defecation practices suppress demand for sanitation products and services. Where demand for toilets does exist, it may be insufficient to overcome the complexity and expense of the process to acquire and maintain proper sanitation at home. These supply-side barriers are reduced by collaborating with actors across the supply chain to make the process easier and more affordable for consumers.
In order to develop a sustainable, holistic solution for sanitation, we conduct extensive research to understand the markets for sanitation products and services, including the opportunity, ability and motivations of households to buy toilets and of businesses to produce and sell toilets. With these findings in mind, we increase both demand and supply of toilets to create a self-sustaining market for sanitation products and services, ensuring a long-term solution.
In addition to having many partners within the sector, successful implementation of a market-based approach to sanitation depends heavily on the identification, training and support of local entrepreneurs. Furthermore, it is not enough to develop an affordable toilet; that toilet must be designed to meet the consumer’s needs and preferences.
Our proposed sanitation interventions, described below, are about building markets, and engaging and supporting local entrepreneurs.
Sanitation Interventions in Rural Areas
Of the 2.5 billion people worldwide without access to improved sanitation, nearly 2 billion live in rural areas.
We have found that the supply chains for sanitation products in rural areas are frequently fragmented; input materials are dispersed among various suppliers and masons often do not know how to build quality toilets. Households find it difficult to build an affordable, quality toilet at home because they may need to visit various private sector actors to purchase necessary materials. We remove these barriers by:
- Designing toilets that are affordable and meet consumer needs.
- Training entrepreneurs to produce these toilets and to set up businesses that facilitate the consumer purchase process, so people can easily find everything they need to acquire a quality toilet at a price they can afford.
- Helping households navigate the existing sanitation marketplace by coordinating their purchase with existing government subsidy providers as well as by leveraging the demand creation activities being conducted by other organizations.
- Working with local microfinance institutions to assist households with making a toilet purchase.
- Facilitating entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and meet the growing demand.
Sanitation Interventions in Urban Area
Worldwide, over one billion people live in urban slums, which are typically overcrowded, polluted and lack the infrastructure to provide basic water and sanitation. Open defecation remains a common practice in slums, contributing to a high risk of disease outbreak (e.g. diarrhea, cholera) and a lack of privacy for women and girls.
Pay-for-use public toilets are often the only option for poor communities since public toilets are often poorly managed and maintained, and cost, lack of space and land rights issues are major barriers to building household facilities.
We recognize the need for a commercially viable, pay-for-use community model that can be managed sustainably, is aligned with the needs of the urban poor and meets the space constraints of slums. We are applying our expertise in social franchising to support local entrepreneurs in order to:
- Build a market for standardized pay-for-use facilities.
- Enhance consumer demand for quality facilities.
- Link promising entrepreneurs to financing options.