CSOs and market-based sanitation approaches

Bronwyn Powell on 13/04/2016 10:26 AEST

eDiscussion: CSOs and market-based sanitation approaches 

How can Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) work effectively to support sanitation markets, products and services? How can they at the same time ensure pro-poor targeting and affordability?

The Civil Society WASH Fund presented an e-discussion led by Associate Professor Juliet Willetts during April and May 2016. The e-discussion explored the roles that CSOs are playing in facilitating sanitation markets, access to financing and the roles of both the private and public sectors.  This e-discussion formed part of the lead-up to the Fund’s East Asia Regional Learning Event, the theme of which is bridging private and public spheres for improved sanitation.

Read the e-discussion summary here.

Sanitation coverage lags behind water coverage in East Asia, and this is particularly true for the poor, the vast majority of whom suffer a lack of hygienic sanitation. In Vietnam, whilst total sanitation coverage is 78%, this is made up of 94% urban and 70% rural coverage, highlighting inequity in access between urban and poorer rural communities (WHO/UNICEF 2015). Market-based approaches to sanitation are increasingly seen as important in achieving the goal of 100% hygienic sanitation in East Asia.

Background: Civil society organisations (CSOs) globally have started working in various ways to support the supply of sanitation products, services and supply-chains. This came from a recognition that raising demand alone may not be sufficient to facilitate access to hygienic latrines, and that often appropriate, affordable, durable latrine options were not readily available, particularly in rural communities. In addition, marketing of sanitation products can be another strategy for facilitating behaviour change and uptake of hygienic practices.

Another driver for a CSO focus on enterprises comes from recognition that project cycles are limited and there is a need to sustain impact beyond project timeframes. As discussed in the Southern Africa Regional Learning Event, this can achieved through working with local government actors. It can also be achieved through working in ways that facilitate local enterprises to take up viable business propositions and offer services for which there is customer demand.

In simple terms, taking a ‘market-based approach’ to sanitation is about working to facilitate the role of private sector actors (or also potentially social enterprises) for the exchange of sanitation products and services. Taking such an approach typically involves strategies to support enterprises and entrepreneurs - which can range from training masons to improving sales information systems. It can involve product design, financing mechanisms for enterprises or customers, conducting market assessments, supply chain analyses or engaging with local governments or associations to support entrepreneurs.  It can also involve shifting from thinking about community members as ‘beneficiaries’ to thinking about them as ‘customers’. Sanitation marketing is a commonly used approach.

Objective: This objective of this e-discussion is for CSOs and others to share their experiences of market-based approaches to sanitation. More widely, it aims to identify different kinds of CSO practice, how and why certain approaches are chosen and what is successful or challenging in the field. We will also cover CSO how CSOs also target the poor and related financing mechanisms (eg. loans, targeted subsidies, micro-credit, rotating funds etc.), and lastly, how CSO are, or could, also engage with the public sector in this work.

Topic Expert A/Prof Juliet Willetts will facilitate this e-discussion. Dr Willetts leads applied research, consultancy and evaluation to inform water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policy and practice in Asia-Pacific. She is Research Director at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at University of Technology Sydney (ISF-UTS). Juliet has led four major research grants, undertaken more than 50 projects and has been recognised by several research excellence and leadership awards. She is a founding member of the Australian WASH Reference group. Her contributions cover a wide range of areas including civil society roles, institutional, governance and policy settings, role of enterprises and entrepreneurship, gender equality, and monitoring and evaluation. Her contribution to this e-discussion and the East Asia Regional Learning Event will draw on her leadership of the ‘Enterprise in WASH’ (www.enterpriseinwash.info) research initiative.

Thread 1: CSO roles (Week 1: 18-24 April 2016)

What is your approach to support the availability of sanitation products, services and supply chains?

Your response or reflections on this question could include aspects related to: types of activities you undertake in relation to sanitation products, services and supply-chains and why you choose these activities; aspects of sanitation marketing that you use; forms of support for enterprises and entrepreneurs; which partners or stakeholders you work closely with and why you choose these; how you combine efforts to raise demand with efforts to facilitate supply; how you monitor and evaluate this type of work; what you see as important roles for CSOs in facilitating a market-based approach.

The e-discussion was run over 3 weeks from 18 April - 8 May 2016Read the e-discussion summary here.


Anonymous's picture
I have been working as Programme Coordinator of CDI WASH Program of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society in Bangladesh funded by DFAT, Australia. The aim of the program is enable vulnerable individuals and communities to address their WASH related needs as part of the broader resilience. CDI WASH Program is supporting WASH related needs to directly 23000 people in rural and flood prone area. We are providing supports specially sanitation and safe drinking water through sanitation marketing. So we need to learn innovative idea from any others organizations.
Anonymous's picture
Dear Mohammed
really nice to hear and learn from your story about what you have done in Bangladesh. working with Vulnerable is such a challenge also in our project. our sanitation marketing activity also focused on need of People with Disability. we train local Entrepreneur to understand about issues related to Marginalized people like PWD and how they can contribute to manage the needs of them by creating facility like latrine that meet their condition so they will feel more comfort in accessing Latrine. I would love to hear more experience from you and colleagues in your project. have a nice day
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Dear all,

Welcome to this e-discussion! The discussion will follow three main topics. The first topic for this week is:

What is your approach to support the availability of sanitation products, services and supply chains?

Your response or reflections on this question could include aspects related to: types of activities you undertake in relation to sanitation products, services and supply-chains and why you choose these activities; aspects of sanitation marketing that you use; forms of support for enterprises and entrepreneurs; which partners or stakeholders you work closely with and why you choose these; how you combine efforts to raise demand with efforts to facilitate supply; how you monitor and evaluate this type of work; what you see as important roles for CSOs in facilitating a market-based approach.

Thank you for your contribution and getting the discussion started Mohammed Keramot Ali. I am sure we will be able to hear about some of those innovative ideas and approaches, including about sanitation marketing in this discussion. We'd also love to hear a bit more about how you are approaching sanitation marketing in Bangladesh.

Look forward to hearing everyone's contributions.

Best regards,
Anonymous's picture
My Name is Rio, I work for CS Fund Project Plan International Indonesia funded by DFAT. our project located in 5 District in East Nusa Tenggara province. this project has focused on ensure that the right of basic sanitation for all and were properly fulfill so every one can have access to better sanitation facility. one domain that we work on this project is Sanitation Marketing. we realized that most of the villages that we work are in remote area and they will a afford high cost for a better Facility like Latrines because they have to buy materials far away from home and pay for transportation to bring all materials home. latrine still become expensive for them. Plan International Indonesia did series of training for local masons how to produced latrine and how to built a good marketing so they can sell it with affordable price. sustainability coming as one important thing especially to ensure the local entrepreneur will monitored as their function to assist people access better sanitation. local government also allocate Budget for training and also to monitoring the sanitation marketing activity.
Anonymous's picture
Hi I am Herie Ferdian. I am currently working for Plan Indonesia as WASH Specialist. A the present Plan Indonesia is now conducting the STBM in several areas in Indonesia. STBM is the Indonesia’s national policy for community sanitation’s behavior change using the CLTS approach. As the CLTS based approach STBM is also conduct sanitation marketing as one of the CLTS component.
There is an interesting innovation that have been done by one of our assisted sanitation entrepreneur group (Papsigro) in Grobogan District that i would like to share in this E-Discussion. They are now working on collaboration with BPR (Bank Perkreditan Rakyat/Community Credit Bank), Grobogan, a micro finance institution in Grobogan District to conduct Water and Sanitation Credit Program. Water and Sanitation Credit Program is aimed to expand water and sanitation service for poor/low income community. With this program, poor community members can buy/access water and sanitation product/facility with affordable installment payment to BPR. BPR does not require any collateral property for the water credit program costumer. The installment payment can be done every month or after the harvesting season. Papsigro’s role in this program is to promote/socialize the program to community and to construct the Water and Sanitation Facility and the role of the BPR is to finance the water and sanitation facility construction. The program is sucessfully participated by many low income communities. At the present there are more than 350 low income Households in Grobogan District who have improved their water and sanitation facility by joining the program
Anonymous's picture
Hello, I work for Live & Learn Environmental Education in Vanuatu implementing a DFAT WASH funded project. The project is around building sanitation marketing enterprise working in peri urban areas in Vanuatu. Live & Learn is currently implementing this project in 2 communities in Port Vila. At this moment LLEE have established 2 community based sanitation marketing enterprise (CBSE) committees and this committe will be the backbone in setting up sanitation enterprise in their community. LLEE is also getting the support from International Water Centre (IWC) and International Womens Development Agency (IWDA) in achieving its outcome for the project. The 2 CBSE have developed a business plan and will be following the cooperative business model to market sanitation and will be registering with Dept of Cooperative very soon. So LLEE is now working very closely with the department in facilitation business and financial training for the 2 communities. Now LLEE is looking at indentifying some training needs for the CBSE to build its capacity on how to effectively run a sanitation enterprise. We had just completed a building of 2 Sanitation Parks and the Park will model 3 different types of toilet and this will be the main products that will be sold by the CBSE. The CBSE is also thinking of selling other sanitary and hygiene products as another income generating source for its business. The main sanitary products that will be sold by the CBSE will be 2 chamber compost toilet, button/pour flush,improved VIP laterin, seat raiser and false floor, an additional product will be the portable ramp for people living with disability. The products can be sold as a kit or as a super structure, the kit will allow the customers to choose its own roofing and walling. The toilet design is built to suit environmental conditions such as flooding, cyclones and earthquake. There was a training of the CBSE on the building of the toillets and they will also be trained on some operation and maintenance of the 3 types of toilet. LLEE also partnered with the Ministry of Health and co-chair the Sanitation Working Group with the Ministry and assist the Ministry in designing a Sanitation Guideline for toilets in rural and urban areas. So Live & Learn Vanuatu is looking forward to the setting up of this sanitation business and helping support the 2 CBSE committees in improving sanitation and hygiene in peri urban areas in Port Vila..
Paul Tyndale-Biscoe's picture
Hi All - I am interested in the idea of supporting local masons and suppliers of sanitation goods and services to meet demand created by CLTS and other demand creation approaches. How viable are these as stand-alone enterprises - do any of the projects in the Fund (or more broadly) have experience of these small enterprises enduring beyond project support? Is it important or necessary for these to be built upon existing successful enterprises for them to last into the future?
Anonymous's picture
Hi Paul,
Thanks for asking a very important question. I am Asim Saleem, National Program Manager, Plan International Pakistan.

Here I would like to answer your question from experience of Plan International in Pakistan working with rural communities for the past 6 years on demand creation vis a vis supporting local masons and suppliers to strengthen supply side.

During the past 6 years we have tried different options like supporting existing grocery shop owners at village to keep latrine construction material as an adds on, training local masons on low cost latrine constriction and supporting entrepreneurs to establish entirely new sanitation businesses at the community level. Only supporting local masons as stand-alone doesn’t work while after training local masons on low cost latrine construction and linking them with sanitation entrepreneurs worked very well and proved to be a successful model that was sustained even after our phase out as both the entrepreneurs and masons who have been trained and linked with each-other came up with sustainable strategies to flourish their business at one end and to provide low cost options for the HHs. Based on the practical experience, in my opinion in order to make sanitation businesses last into the future the best option is to work either with existing enterprises to keep low-cost sanitation material as an adds on or the new SanMark to add more material (latrine cleaning, handwashing etc.).
Paul Tyndale-Biscoe's picture
Thanks Asim - that's interesting and supports the idea that building on existing enterprises is important. The challenge of course is trying to market goods and services to remote areas where there is very little economic activity and no suitable existing businesses to build upon.
Anonymous's picture
Dear Paul I totally agree with you about the challenge in remote areas but what we experienced specially in Pakistan there are few grocery shops in any of the remote villages just link them with entrepreneurs at hub level so that shop owner at village level can act as sales agent in that remote area. This arrangement actually works.
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Dear all,

Thanks everyone for your interesting inputs to date.

Already we’ve heard about a breadth of CSO roles and activities, including:
- Initiating and supporting enterprises by training local masons and related organisations
- Supporting enterprises to address specific needs: including people with a disability, for flood prone zones; for small island contexts
- Engaging with government to support budget allocation for sanitation marketing training and monitoring
- Supporting an association of entrepreneurs to partner with a micro-finance institution to reach low-income households
- Engaging with government to establish legal form for an enterprise (for example a cooperative)
- Engaging with government to develop guidelines and standards for latrines.

These all sound to be excellent contributions by CSOs.
So perhaps we can dig a little deeper and consider some further questions:
- Is training the best way to support enterprises? What does your training typically cover? What other forms of support have CSOs found to be helpful for expanding enterprise activity? Mentoring? Market assessments? Formation of associations? Other activities?
- How viable are enterprises (in the long-term) that have received your support? (relates to Paul’s great questions above)
- How are you linking activities with enterprises, to activities to raise demand such as CLTS?

Responses in any of these three areas, or against the broader question above (“What is your approach to support the availability of sanitation products, services and supply chains?”) are welcome.

Best regards,
Anonymous's picture
I have been working as Program Manager in a national NGO SABAWON in Pakistan. Currently we are implementing WASH Emergency and Pakistan Approach towards Total Sanitation (PATS) Rural Project in District Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in North West Pakistan. The PATS Rural Project was funded by UNICEF started in March 2015 and ended in February 2016.
District Bannu is located in Southern part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province with security challenges, crisis ridden and poverty stricken communities. The emergency component to the PATS project was added in the context of massive influx of displaced communities from the closely situated and war affected tribal communities to relatively safe areas in District Bannu.
PATS provide guidelines and support to relevant stakeholders in formulation of polices strategies and guidelines for enhancing sanitation coverage in Pakistan. The sanitation policy emphasizes on social mobilization as a key component to promote sanitation.
During one year of project implementation, we formed Village Sanitation Committees (VSCs), trained Community Resource Persons (CRPs) within the focused communities on how they could facilitate social mobilization and linkages development process, provided trainings to masons in low cost latrine construction, trainings to entrepreneurs on how to establish local sanitation marts.
Government officials and Political Leaders are among the key persons, whose presence is utmost important to ensure ownership of PATS to communities for up-Scaling rural sanitation, increasing understanding on sanitation importance, to reduce diarrheal diseases and also to mobilize the community door to door for eradication of polio. To provide support in this project SABAWON’s team arranged one day training to the new elected representatives and also Government officials of the target area. The main purpose of the training was to train/orient the Government officials and Political Leaders of the target communities (District Bannu) for ownership of PATS and provide support in Up-Scaling rural sanitation.
SABAWON under the WASH emergency and PATS project hold a one day “Inception workshop. The main purpose of the workshop was to bring all IPs and stakeholders on one platform and give them a brief orientation about the project activities and what benefit and support it would provide to the internally displaced people. The workshop helped to a larger extent in stream lining the major activities of the project and to receive a proper back up of all the participants.
A District Sanitation Committee was established with representation of district government Bannu to oversee the progress achieved and keep the established system running after the project end.
Anonymous's picture
Hello Juliet
This is Hassan Mujtaba from Plan International, Pakistan working as Sanitation marketing Officer since 2014. In this period, we are working with different stakeholders and partner to implement the Pakistan Approach to Total Sanitation.
I have been part of the process of market based sanitation approach (Sanitation Marketing) by using the different strategies to get the desired results. Plan int. Pakistan is using two different strategies in two different projects i.e. scaling up PATS in Punjab and South Asia WASH Results Program.
Training of entrepreneurs is an important task to build the capacity. But before the training, it is very crucial to select the entrepreneurs confidently by having selection criteria. Another question is raised that either mason should work as sanitation entrepreneur or not? I think, yes, but will make it difficult to manage for mason to do the both jobs at same time.
Another major part of the job is to link the entrepreneur with manufacturers with different design and models such as ceramic pan, plastic pan or concrete ring.
Entrepreneurs required support of other stakeholder such as CRPs, Village organization (VSC), Masons and manufacturers.
Anonymous's picture
I am Hafiza Ayesha Riaz working as Sanitation Marketing Officer in Plan International Pakistan. I am working in Scaling Up PATS (Pakistan Approach To Total Sanitation) Project in Punjab and SAWRP (South Asia WASH Results Program).
Both projects are related to WASH and running in 9 intervention districts of Punjab. These projects are implemented by our partners in which Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), Local Government & Community Development (LG & CD), NRSP, LPP and Mojaz Foundation is involved. With these many other stakeholders are also involved in our projects like Rural Sanitation Marts (RSM's), Entrepreneurs who are working on Union Council level, Masons, Community Resource Persons (CRP's), Village Organization (VO), Village Sanitation Committee (VSC), Manufacturer and field staff of partners.
In sanitation marketing we train entrepreneurs and masons and build their capacity on low cost sanitation options. We are focusing on the reduction of cost centers which are used in supply chain of sanitation marketing. In Scaling Up PATS we are working with Manufacturer, RSM's, Entrepreneurs and masons. While in SAWRP we are working with manufacturer, entrepreneurs and masons.
In SAWRP, Community Investment Fund (CFI) is introduced to facilitate the entrepreneurs and community members while in PATS we provided subsidies to RSM's and entrepreneurs. We have experience of both models with subsidy and without subsidy.
Anonymous's picture
Practical Action focuses on URBAN sanitation, water and hygiene in poor communities.

There are two aspects of our work I'd like to highlight to illustrate the approaches we take. Overall, we aim to use a systems-based approach and look holistically. We aim to identify the range of market actors (including valuing the role of the existing informal sector). We try to make sure we (as an NGO) act as a FACILITATOR, rather than an active market player. This helps with both effectiveness and long-term sustainability and scale.

We have adapted rural CLTS approaches to make them applicable to urban contexts. This needs to combine aspects of generation demand (triggering etc.) with a more active supply-side, because in urban areas, there is less scope for people to be able to build safe toilets without on their own. All of this is documented for Kenya in this report: http://policy.practicalaction.org/resources/publications/item/lessons-in-clts-from-nakuru

We try to ensure that we work with EXISTING market actors, but they may be informal (e.g. informal, local builders), and they may not currently be very active in toilet construction. In Kenya we trained around 25 artisans in a set of new low-cost toilet designs that had been put together by local people and approved by the local authority.

A second example of taking a market-systems approach is in our work on faecal sludge management in Bangladesh. Here we recognised the work that informal pit emptiers are already doing, and tried to design new ways of incorporating them into Local Authority systems and practices to deliver a better and more widespread service to residents. You can find out more about this here: http://policy.practicalaction.org/resources/publications/item/faecal-sludge-management-in-faridpur-bangladesh-scaling-up-through-service-level-agreements

Thanks, Lucy Stevens, Practical Action
Anonymous's picture
Hi everyone, this is an interesting discussion. From SNVs experience in the Asia region, I would also agree with the need to take a systems approach, to take care not to distort the market (think sustainably) and to be scalable. We integrate supply chain strengthening as part of a broader capacity building approach that considers governance, demand creation and BCC. By a systems approach I mean we start with a supply chain analysis that looks across the whole chain of actors, engages our government partners and considers the range of consumer needs and preferences, including households living in poverty. Engaging the government partners in the analysis assists in also building appreciation for any specific barriers the private actors are facing (eg legal, registration issues, complex administration processes) that can potentially be addressed as well as the recognition of the role the market can play.

In response to Pauls comments. I agree that it’s important to recognise and work with the existing supply chains and see what’s possible to diversify or add on. For example in Vietnam in the North we found the delivery trucks to the road heads were also playing informal roles as sales agents; in the Himalayas’, there were existing networks for cement that we could work with. In central Vietnam and the Mekong, we’ve been looking at linking the larger stores in the centres to a network of masons to offer a “full package” to HHs including delivery and construction which simplifies the buying process for households. We need to take care though and communicate/recognise that risk is inherent for the businesses involved, as it is for any business. So diversifying may be a way to manage issues of viability after the initial demand has passed as part of a campaign.

If training masons are part of strengthening supply chain activities, using agreed selection criteria and considering their motivation helps. One thing we’ve tried in several contexts, including Vietnam, is training female assistant masons in recognition that a) they were in these contexts more motivated to stay in their area and provide the services; b) they were more comfortable marketing to women within their households who in turn had specific preferences; c) it has potentially some positive economic and gender-related outcomes.
Look forward to the rest of the discussions, Gabrielle,SNV
Anonymous's picture
This is Kailash Sharma from SNV Nepal, working for SSH4A programme as Market Development Advisor. SSH4A is being implemented in 15 districts of Nepal located in three different ecological zones- Mountain, Hill and Terai (flatlands)- which have different socio-cultural practices. The districts are at different stages of sanitation coverage. Some districts have already achieved open defecation free status and are working towards total sanitation (based on six key behaviours recommended in government guidelines) whereas other districts are focusing on universal sanitation coverage. Therefore, the need of the private sector involvement is different in these two scenarios.

SNV is implementing its activities through local NGOs in coordination with the government line agency, the Water Supply and Sanitation Divisional Office and the multi-stakeholder sector platform, the District WASH Coordination Committee. SNV’s programme has four components: demand creation, strengthening supply chains, behaviour change communication and governance.

The supply chain component focuses on developing a supply network in the district and target villages that is able to meet the demand for sanitation as well as sustaining sanitation behaviours with quality. First a study on Consumer Preferences and Supply Chain Analysis was conducted for the 15 districts, which mapped the supply chain, identified the bottlenecks in the supply chain, and helped shed light on consumer needs. For example, it was found that availability of hardware and masons for construction was generally not an issue in the districts; however transportation to the remote villages in the mountains was difficult and therefore the materials were costly and affordability became an issue. In the terai areas (flatlands) where sanitation coverage was low, there was a lack of information flow to the hardware suppliers and service providers on the demand being created for sanitation in the villages. A key issue was construction quality, especially related to proper joints and fittings of sanitary parts to prevent odours etc, as well as making proper superstructures that were sized comfortably and had ventilation, light, and lockable doors. Furthermore, in the flood prone areas knowledge on suitable technological options was weak.

To address the above, the key intervention has been to share the findings of the study and facilitate a process of strategic action planning for each district that tackles the challenges of supply chain and effective service delivery from a district-wide perspective. This has been done through “Sanitation cafés”, a form of an interactive workshop, held thus far in nine districts and attended by government line agencies, private sector, cooperatives, and non-governmental organizations in the district. Importantly, the “sanitation café” has also helped the private sector, small- and medium- entrepreneurs (SMEs) to visualize the scope of sanitation business in the districts and has created linkages between demand and supply. It has also created an awareness in the district line agencies of the importance of supply chain strengthening. SNV is now implementing its supply chain strengthening activities based on identified action points and recommendations from the study that have in turn been reflected in the district strategic action plans. Examples of activities include: developing a technological options handbook and training package together with the national government including options for high flood and/or groundwater areas and also contextualised options for people with disabilities; orientation on latrine options for masons and training for quality construction of toilets; linking consumers to cooperatives for accessing finances for toilet construction; linking concrete ring producers and masons to hardware suppliers located in the district market centres; and capacity building of small and medium entrepreneurs on business development. Now the access to sanitation materials is improving and number of quality toilet being constructed is growing.
Anonymous's picture
This Muhammad ishaq khan From pakistan,its a very good Discussion,let me knew you all that SABAWON with Help of Unicef Pakistan is implementing a emergency response wash project response to recently Conflicted area of Kurram agency,where SABAWON will Work on Sanitation and Clean drinking water Access to at least 2750 HH,with Focus on Behavioral change in hygiene and health,we have adopted a Cost sharing latrine facility where Sanitation kit will be given to community to build low cast latrine to mitigate the ODF,
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Dear all,

Thanks so much for your generous contributions. A special prize goes to those of you from Pakistan for so many posts and ideas!

I’ll summarise the discussion from last week, and then in my next post will introduce the new topic for this week’s discussion.

So firstly, to briefly summarise week 1… we’ve heard what sounds like some common principles and strategies for CSO work with sanitation supply and markets:

1. Take a ‘systems approach’: for instance by considering together the whole supply chain and its various actors, consumer preferences, government roles and behaviour change communication

2. Facilitate market activity by linking different actors: for instance linking large stores to masons; linking manufacturers to entrepreneurs to masons; linking entrepreneurs to sanitation marts; linking concrete ring producers and masons to hardware suppliers located in the district market centres; running ‘sanitation cafes’ that bring together private sector, government, cooperatives and NGOs in a given district to bring everyone together

3. Diversify and build from existing private sector activity: offering sanitation products through grocery stores, delivery truck drivers as sales agents in rural areas, supporting existing informal pit-emptiers in urban contexts

4. Support quality in construction: Developing technical options and handbooks (including for specific situations (high ground water, flooding zones), develop and provide training in low-cost options emphasising construction quality in terms of proper joints and fittings to prevent odours, and well-constructed superstructures

5. Respond to the context: Two posts have mentioned the challenges of remote areas where the combination of materials and transportation costs create affordability issues. We also explored this question in ‘Enterprise in WASH’ research in Indonesia and Vietnam, which points to the need to understand which contexts and situations are best suited to a purely market-based approach, and which situations are not, and will require additional models of support- more on this in the e-discussion next week!

6. Make it easy for the household: We heard ideas about offering ‘full package’ delivery and construction as a service, developing sanitation marts, offering either as a full kit or allowing households to choose their own superstructure

7. Think about selection criteria for entrepreneurs: Several posts mentioned the importance of the selection process for those who are trained, with one highlighting the importance of considering female masons/entrepreneurs, who may be motivated to provide services and stay in their area and who are comfortable marketing to women, and which delivers gender equality benefits

Some good questions have also been posed, for instance should a trained mason also work as sanitation entrepreneur or not? Does this assist? Or does this make it difficult for the mason to manage to do both jobs at same time? (thanks to Hassan Mujtaba from Plan International, Pakistan for this question!). In our research we found that this varied from situation to situation with no single answer as to what is best- we found many successful cases of combined masons/entrepreneurs, and also examples where masons were best suited to focus on the construction work, and entrepreneurs or existing businesses with aptitude for business thinking, sales and marketing were best able to focus on these aspects.

There’s much more detail amongst the examples in each post, so worth taking the time to read them through.

Best regards,
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Dear all,

Our question for this week (25-29 April) is to look at the complexity and challenges of bringing together market-based approaches whilst ensuring that the poor and disadvantaged are reached.

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: What kinds of pro-poor sanitation approaches or financing mechanisms have you used to ensure the poor and disadvantaged are included? How effective have they been? What challenges have you faced?

Your response or reflections on this question could include aspects related to: how have you combined subsidies or other support for the poor with market-based approaches; what has worked and what has not?; what complexities and challenges have arisen (eg. market distortion, ability adequately target the poor and disadvantaged)?; monitoring of who’s benefiting and who isn’t; poverty targeting methods; approaches to gender and social inclusion; affordable product design; products that meet the needs to elderly and people living with a disability; types of affordability issues faced (eg addressing cash-flow versus absolute poverty); sources of additional finance and different financing options (eg savings clubs, rotating funds, facilitating access to loans, use of output-based aid).

Already in last week’s discussion we’ve heard a few examples to get us started…
- A sanitation entrepreneur association established through support form Plan in Indonesia (Papsigro) is now working with a micro-finance institution in their district to conduct a ‘water and sanitation credit program’ to expand services to poor and low income community members by allowing affordable monthly instalment payments, and no requirement for collateral to take part in the program (for more see post from Herie Ferdian, Plan in Indonesia)
- Creating latrine models for people living with a disability (PLWD) (see post from Robertus Rio Putra, Plan Indonesia) or including a portable ramp as an option within latrine kits (see post from Iva Koroisamanunu from Live and Learn Environmental in Vanuatu)
- Approaches to reach war-affected tribal communities and displaced persons in Pakistan, including social mobilisation and training of masons in low-cost latrine construction and to entrepreneurs on how to establish sanitation marts together with facilitating support from government officials and political leaders (see more in post from Iftikhar Hussain)
- Linking consumers to cooperatives for accessing finances for toilet construction (see Kailash Sharma’s post, SNV Nepal)

It would be great to hear your experiences, your challenges and any questions that have been arising in your work. Putting forward questions is a great way to hear what others think and hopefully gain some new ideas!

Best regards,
Anonymous's picture
We have provided subsidies to our entrepreneurs. Some of them used those subsidies for material purchasing while some used to give discount to the poorest of poor. We have also introduced plastic pans especially for those who can afford ceramic products and those plastic pans are low cost and affordable but the responses of community members towards plastic pan was not good. They have issues regarding sustainability and cleanliness of plastic pans. They believe that it is one time investment. Therefore they prefer improved latrines with ceramic products instead of plastic pan. Entrepreneurs have trained on multiple latrine options with multiple ranges. Other than this, Community Investment Fund (type of revolving fund) is also introduced through which entrepreneurs can facilitate the community.
Paul Tyndale-Biscoe's picture
There are lots of examples in the Fund of loans or micro credit facilities being made available to poor households to build toilets. I am interested in the inherent problem of poor people going into debt to purchase something that will never bring a financial return (at least not directly). Within the fund (or more broadly) is this a significant barrier to this mechanism or do the approaches to promoting sanitation create such a demand as to overcome this?
Anonymous's picture
In Kenya we have successfully worked with micro credit - but it's a bit different there because it is landlords who are borrowing. There was a concern they would put rents up because they have given up land to toilets and in order to repay their investments. However, a study we did showed this was not usually the case - or there was not a direct relationship. In fact, landlords were making enough extra money because their tenants were more stable and they had fewer vacant rooms.

In other contexts, it may be more difficult, as you point out. But it may still be a benefit to people to be able to spread payments for a large item like this over time. And that is something that micro credit offers.
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Hi Paul and Lucy, thanks for these thoughts.

Paul, you raise a good question, and it highlights one of the key differences between two common approaches to assisting access for the poor:
- Payment by instalments
- Loans or micro-credit

In my experience in our research, payment by instalments has been helpful for reaching poor households as often cash flow rather than absolute poverty is the issue. Instalments seem to be common across the examples people have provided in this discussion also.

In terms of loans or micro-credit, it is the interest rate that then becomes the biggest factor that affects the extent of debt created for the borrower. As Alex mentions below, in Timor-Leste, interest rates for micro-finance are high (>15%) makes this financing source unrealistic.

I am interested if others (in the Fund or more broadly) could share the types of interest rates that are common in your approaches to micro-credit or loans? For instance Hanh, could you share the rates for Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) and Women's Union's revolving fund?
Anonymous's picture
Hi Juliet,
I agree with your points. Regarding loans and micro-credit issues, I think payment duration and amount of loan are also important factors to influence household's decision.

For your information, VBSP has offered favorable interest rates for different types of loans, all rural households can access to loans for Water supply and Sanitation with the rate at 9%/year (equivalent to 0.75%/month); and payment duration is 60 months. In addition, VBSP loans for poor households will have lower rates at 6.6%/year, near poor HHs is 7.92%/year.
WU's revolving fund used to offer loans with interest rate at 0.5%/month, but they increased the rate to 0.8%/month recently. Payment duration is also 60 months.
Anonymous's picture
Hi Juliet,
I'm Hoa from Plan VNM. in our project area - Kon Plong district, Kon Tum province, the VBSP's loan for water and sanitation is available (6 millon for water and 6 million for sanitation) but usually people (mostly ethnic minority) don't borrow. There are reasons behind:
- People are afraid to pay the interest rate (which is about 6%/year); - - Making toilet is not their first priority
- They are not aware how much and how to make a low cost toilet while the local service for sanitation is not available on site and
- They don't know how to reach the consultation sources.
In their mind, cost to make a septic tank is about 10-20 Mil. VND, which is too luxury in comparison with their annual income (for the poor HH the income is about 2 mil./month or less).
To help them make decision to borrow, we have been trying to combine various actions:
- introduction of low cost semi-septic toilet as a solution
- suitable approach to reduce the cost - their contribution in labour and local material for making the upper part of the toilet and borrowing money to make the lower part of the toilet only;
- together with local Women Union and VBSP to simplify the procedure for borrowing with WU sponsor.
Earlier, we have organized various training to local masons on making sanitation production, low cost toilet using cheep, simplified mold that can bring the service closer to the households; to demo making concrete ring on site using new cheep, simple mold, and make a low cost toilets; to get people visited and share comments.
As a result, many HH were persuaded, then have ordered the masons to make for them the toilet (they paid themselves without borrowing from the VBSP, because the cost is low, less than 1.5 Mil. VND and they could afford).
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Thank you Mr Hoa, it is great to hear of the efforts you have made to overcome the barriers for ethnic minorities in central Vietnam to access toilets- these are all helpful strategies- to lower the cost of the toilets through various means and make processes easier to take out a loan.
Hassan_Mujtaba_Jaferi's picture
Community investment fund is launched by Plan Pakistan with collaboration of implementing partner. This fund is directly associated with entrepreneurs in a way that this fund is transferred to LSOs and then LSOs disburse this fund to entrepreneurs on easy installment. Furthermore entrepreneurs also look to give the low cost product to poorest on six months easy instalment. This approach requires strong coordination with LSOs and requires enriched monitoring mechanism for the LSOs performance. It helped both entrepreneurs and poor community member to go ahead.
Demand is generated via triggering but here we need to focus more on forth P of marketing which is promotion. Use of low cost promotion methods can be utilized by sanitation entrepreneur to generate demand. Role of government department plays an important role to facilitate the poorest people of the community.
Anonymous's picture
SNV Vietnam has recently implemented WASH program with many projects all over the country. We designed our projects comprising 3 key components: Behaviour change communication (BCC) for demand creation, Supply chain development, and institutional enabling environment.
Under the BCC component, we developed many materials and tools (flipchart, posters, banners, loudspeaker scripts, village sanitation map, etc) those have been used at community sanitation meetings, household visits and sanitation events by sanitation motivators. Through these activities, we could reach all households including vulnerable groups.
Under Supply chain component, we supported to develop a link among all related actors on the supply chain, from manufacturers, sellers, service providers and households. The model of "Sanitation Convenient Shop" (SANCONS) appeared at commune level (the lowest administrative level) with a full network including shop sellers, sale agents and masons improved remarkably the access to sanitation services of households, especially the poor. In addition, low cost technologies for sanitation (types of latrine, types of construction materials and facilities) were also studied and developed. Besides, several micro-finance mechanisms were established as well to support the poor in access to sanitation including of 1) credit channels under banks with favourable interest rate and loan duration, 2) Pay late policies by SANCONS, 3) Sanitation Savings groups by households.
Under the Institutional Enabling Environment component, we supported local governments to develop long term and short term strategy and plan on sanitation with supporting policy making. Furthermore, capacity building for all sanitation actors was also focused with many training materials developed, many training courses and workshops conducted.
Alex Grumbley's picture
I work with WaterAid in Timor-Leste and I've found it very useful to hear about everyone's experiences with sanitation financing/marketing. I'm sharing some reflections on the Timor-Leste context:

• Mason training: Masons in Timor-Leste tend to be community based and cover their community, not often selling their services beyond the community, which limits their market for toilets or long-term sustainability. To make it profitable for themselves and worth their time they also want to generally construct a complete new structure, rather than provide a cheap upgrade.

• Costs: Major cost for rural Timor is transport, which often triples the cost, especially for heavy fragile precast concrete and ceramic product, (e.g. to hire a truck to deliver materials from regional town to mountainous village can cost>US$200). To overcome this we have tested arranging a partial transport subsidy through facilitating bulk purchase from communities with a subsidy for the cost of transportation and we are now trialing more plastic products, such as the American Standard ‘Sato’ from Bangladesh, linked in with agricultural supply chains to rural communities.

• Credit: In Timor historically credit has been used for business development in particular for women’s livelihoods and due to low repayment rates interest rates p.a. are usually >15% from micro credit NGOs even when special agreements for sanitation improvements are made, this compares to 2-3% for toilet loans in Cambodia. Therefore, HH’s in Timor have yet to take-out loans for sanitation and we are trialing different ‘smart’ subsidy approaches, we would be very interested to hear about any experiences with managing sanitation rebates?

• Targeting: identifying vulnerable HH’s and in particular people with disabilities is very challenging in the Timor-Leste context. Official statistics and records show that 4.5% of the rural population are PwD but we often find it is 10-15%. However, we have to do several follow-ups with careful facilitation over a number years to pick-up all the PwD as they usually want to remain hidden, for a number of reasons such as fear being taken away from their families and placed in institutions etc.. We have also found that it is best for the PwD to lead the development process of the toilet with adaptations rather than provide a standard product, although they need to have knowledge of the adaptations and products available beforehand.

Best wishes,

Anonymous's picture
Hi Everyone. I work with iDE Cambodia’s WASH program and I wanted to share our thoughts. As a sanitation marketing program, we use market-based approaches to increase toilet access. The program has launched a pilot to test how effectively sanitation marketing, micro loans, and targeted subsidies can reach to poor, while minimizing market distortions.

Here is an overview of the operational structure:

The program coaches independent sales agents to explain the dangers of open defecation, and the importance of toilet access. These independent agents then organize sales meetings in rural villages. Interested households attend sale meetings to purchasing a latrine. The pilot uses Cambodia’s poor identification system to designate recipients of “targeted subsidies.” Households with valid poor cards can purchase the latrine at a 22% or 55% discount, depending on their classification. (Note - full price latrines are $56.25 USD.)

Every customer, regardless of poor status, can purchase the latrine with cash or using a loan. If the customer choses a loan, our micro finance partner sends a credit officer to begin loan processing. Cash as well as loan orders (after processing) are routed to local, independent latrine suppliers who will manufacture, deliver, and install the customers’ latrine.

An important operational feature of this pilot is that the targeted discounts are integrated into ordinary sanitation marketing operations. Discounted latrines and market-priced latrines are offered in the same sales event. iDE hopes integrating a subsidy program with Sanitation Marketing operations results in greater efficiency and reduces administrative burden of running a subsidy program alone.

Additionally, iDE is working with a research firm, Causal Design, to run a randomized control trial (RCT) alongside the pilot. The RCT will test the pilot’s ability to penetrate the poorest market segments and the efficacy of the pilot’s operational model. The study will also look at any unintended distortionary effects of the subsidy on surrounding geographies. We are looking forward to using these results to shape future efforts and ensuring that our sanitation marketing approach reaches poor and disadvantaged consumers in a meaningful way. At this point, it is too early to share pilot insights, but we look forward to sharing preliminary data in the months to come.
Anonymous's picture
Hi everyone, I'm from East Meets West (EMW)/Thrive Networks in Vietnam. I'd like to share what we have done and some reflections.
Since 2012, EMW has implemented a scale-up sanitation program called Community Hygiene Output based Aid (CHOBA) to increase sanitation adoption in rural communities. In Vietnam, the program has mobilized 111,500 poor and near poor households built hygienic latrines through main activities conducted by Women's Union members in collaboration with local authorities:
1. Identify the poor households having no hygienic latrines by household enumeration;
2. Sanitation promotion campaign via village meetings, household visits, loud speaker and distributing leaflets;
3. Support poor households to access to loans from Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) and Women's Union's revolving fund;
4. Strengthen exiting supply chain by engaging the material suppliers and local masons to produce affordable products and allow the poor households to pay by instalments;
5. Provide consumer rebate of 26 usd to poor and near poor households after the hygienic latrines completed. This rebate accounts for 7-10% of latrine cost in VN;
6. Reward Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to communes where sanitation coverage increases 30% or reach 95% coverage;
7. Provide Performance based incentives to local implementers (WU officials and village promoters) to target the poor and near poor households;
Based on CHOBA implementation in Vietnam, we've found OBA sanitation to target the poor worked effectively due to the following elements/factors: (i) setting up Monitoring and reporting system is crucial but challenging due to local partners' capacity, (ii) enabling environment facilitated by performance-based incentives is important (not only increasing their income a little but also their works are recognized by community and government), (iii) OBA approach made the local implementers take the risks to pre-finance sanitation promotion activities, but it also created space for innovations and flexibility for adjustments, (iv) one size does not fit all and diversify is required when implementing at scale (CHOBA implemented in over 500 communes in 10 provinces in VN), (v) political willingness appeared by providing supports and co-funding some project activities where OBA latrine targets contributed and integrated into government development targets.
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Dear all,

Thank you again for the many and detailed inputs. I am sorry I wasn’t able to reply during last week due to travel. Below is a short summary of inputs from last week, including a few questions at the end if you’d like to discuss this area a little further. Below that I have also posted the question for the final week of this e-discussion.

Concerning supporting access by all whilst using a market-based approach, we have heard about:

o Use of ‘community-investment funds’ to support entrepreneurs to offer six month instalment payments (Hassan, Plan Pakistan)
o Use of ‘revolving funds’ offer discounts to the poor

o Discounts: Offered to households with valid poverty card 22% or 55% depending on poverty status (Alicia, IDE Cambodia)
o Payment by instalments: ‘Pay-late’ policies by sanitation convenience shops in Vietnam (see post from Thanh, SNV Vietnam), and enterprises allowing poor households to pay by instalments (Hanh, EMWF/Thrive Vietnam)
o Cheaper products: Plastic pans were mentioned, including potential problems in terms of their desirability and cleanliness (post from Hafiza Ayesha Riaz), and in Timor-Leste there are current trials with the American Standard ‘Sato’ from Bangladesh (Alex, WaterAid Timor-Leste)
o Savings groups: By households (see post from Thanh, SNV Vietnam)
o Transport subsidy: Partial transport subsidy for communities making a bulk purchase in remote areas (see post from Alex Grumbley, WaterAid Timor-Leste)
o Loans: Offered to both poor and non-poor households through a partner microfinance organisations (see post from XXX, IDE Cambodia), offered through state social policy bank (Vietnam Bank for Social Policy) and Women’s Union revolving fund (see post from Hanh, EMWF/Thrive Vietnam), credit channels under banks offering a favourable interest rate and loan duration (Thanh, SNV Vietnam)
o Consumer rebate: For registered poor and near-poor USD 26 (7-10% of the cost)

o Micro-credit for landlords to improve sanitation facilities, which rather than resulting in higher rent (to cover their costs) instead did not, and led to more stable tenants and less vacancies- a win-win situation for both landlord and tenants (Lucy, Practical Action)

o Government systems of poverty identification – registered poor and near poor in Cambodia and Vietnam, including EMWF/Thrive undertaking household enumeration (could you perhaps elaborate on this enumeration Hanh?)
o Use of communications mechanisms to ensure poor are not excluded: loudspeakers, posters, banners etc.
o Identifying households with people living with a disability- noted to be challenging- with higher actual rates (10-15% compared to official 4.5%) in the Timor context (Alex, WaterAid Timor-Leste)

o Minimising market distortion – IDE Cambodia is studying this and will share results when they become available (Alicia, IDE Cambodia)
o Efficiency- IDE Cambodia offer both full-price and discounted products at the same sales event (Alicia, IDE Cambodia)
o Use of performance incentives for communes (to reach higher levels of coverage) and for volunteers (Women’s Union and village promoters) by EMWF/Thrive
o Interest rates of micro-finance providers- comment from Alex, WaterAid Timor-Leste on high rates in that country context (15%) which make this source of financing infeasible
o A need for greater focus on fourth ‘P’ of marketing which is promotion (Hassan, Plan Pakistan)
o Masons in Timor-Leste were found to need to build a complete structure (not just an upgrade) for the activity to be profitable for them. These masons also tended to be community-based and cover their own community, not often selling their services beyond the community, limiting their market for toilets and long-term sustainability.
o Trial to link sales of ‘Sato’ latrine product with agricultural supply chains to rural communities (Alex, Timor-Leste)
o It was best for people living with a disability to lead the development process of the toilet with adaptations rather than provide a standard product, although they need to have knowledge of the adaptations and products available beforehand (Alex, Timor-Leste)

As per my comment under the thread following Paul’s question above concerning households going into debt taking out loans for toilets, it would be great to hear more from people on the typical loan interest rates involved for the loans you have described.

Also, we also haven’t heard so much about if and how offering these various forms of targeted support to poor households is interfering with either (i) demand creation/reaching ODF or (ii) marketing efforts to other sections of the community who will not receive such support.

If anyone has comments on these areas then please do respond here…
Anonymous's picture
Thanks Juliet for very good summary.
In terms of targeting the poor, as you said, we have used Government systems of poverty identification – registered poor and near poor in Cambodia and Vietnam, but we could not have accurate baseline data of "hygienic latrine ownership" by using census data provided by the health workers or government. In Vietnam, open defecation is rare, so the bulk of the work is concentrated on convincing poor households to switch from using unhygienic latrines to hygienic ones that fulfill the standards set by the Ministry of Health. There are 15 latrine models acceptable to MOH, but the majority in the communities covered by CHOBA are latrines with septic tanks, double vaulted composting latrines, and pour-flush latrines.
Payment for results depends on the accuracy of the reported data which are used for verification before EMW disburses the incentives to Vietnam Women's Union and consumer rebates to poor households. Also, the Conditional Cash Transfer requires accurate baseline sanitation coverage. Therefore, East Meets West has to spend one year to enumerate households, and to train Vietnam Women’s Union members in monitoring procedures.
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Dear all,

Again, thank you for your many ideas shared to date. The final question for the last week of this e-discussion (2-6 May) concerns the roles of public sector or other actors in supporting market-based sanitation approaches.

QUESTION: How can CSOs also work with local government (or other local actors) in facilitating market-based sanitation approaches?

Your response or reflections on this question could include aspects related to: facilitating the interest of private sector support agencies to support sanitation enterprises; local government roles in linking demand and supply; supporting other actors such as associations of entrepreneurs, women’s union or women’s groups; facilitating government roles in targeted subsidies to ensure access to the poor and disadvantaged; supporting the setting and monitoring of quality standards and accreditation of products and services.

Look forward to hearing your responses!

Best regards,
Anonymous's picture
iDE engages with government and other local organizations in each of the seven countries where it implements WASH programming. Nowhere is this engagement more pronounced than in Vietnam, whose national government is very deliberate in promoting cooperation and capacity building between NGOs and local institutions. We wanted to highlight three principles we have identified for effectively leveraging these groups in our SanMark work, keeping in mind that these same ideas have broader application for our programming more generally.

Our first principle is that buy-in is key. Government officials at both the national and local levels are unfamiliar with and often skeptical of the market-based approach to increasing sanitation coverage, so building buy-in among key individuals and organizations is both a top priority and often a challenge. To address this challenge, we start at the national level by cultivating relationships with officials in the Ministry of Health and the Vietnam Health Environment Management Agency. We take pains to demonstrate clearly our successes in sanitation work in Vietnam and other countries. In turn, we invite these officials to attend early provincial-level sessions with key local stakeholders and potential implementers. We always ask national government representatives to speak at these engagements to introduce iDE and express support for our approach. This goes a long way in creating buy-in from the very beginning of a project.

Our second precept is that “you have to see it to believe it.” We understand that you can talk all day about the virtues of SanMark, but there’s no substitute for seeing the results with your own eyes. With this in mind, we always incorporate in-field demonstrations for local government officials and other critical stakeholders. We find that these events are often the turning point for our potential partners, as they have the opportunity to truly comprehend how SanMark works and why its reliance on market forces can be so powerful.

The final ingredient to our success in building local partnerships is the belief that no two partners are the same. For example, local Departments of Health in Vietnam operate under the national Ministry of Health. Their connection to a national government agency impacts their priorities and their staffing profile. On the other hand, local Women’s Unions are more akin to a quasi-NGO, with a decentralized structure and a strong focus on women’s issues. We take these differences into account when designing trainings, crafting communications, and negotiating partnerships.

These are just three examples of the lessons we’ve learned in working with governments and other local organizations. We would love to hear from others on this crucial topic.
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Dear Greg and all,

Great to hear these strategies used by IDE. Sounds like you are working at both national level as well as local level in engaging with government.

In our research in both Vietnam and Indonesia we found that engaging with private sector in sanitation was for many government staff a very new concept, and one that was somewhat challenging for them to contemplate and understand what their role should be.

This was particularly true for health agencies who were comfortable leading behaviour change approaches and training, but less clear if and how they should interact with businesses. And often funding ear-marked for sanitation could not directly be used to support activities concerning private sector. There is much more to talk about under this theme! We'll leave the discussion open until the end of this week and welcome any further responses.

Best regards,
Juliet_Willetts's picture
Dear all,

Thank you for your contributions to this e-discussion!

I hope that the earlier summaries of the discussion have been helpful. There is more to be said concerning public sector roles in market-based approaches to sanitation, which we will explore further at the CS WASH Fund East Asia Learning Event (EARLE) in July in Hanoi and will document and share in the event synthesis report.

Meanwhile, the WASH Futures 2016 Conference starts tomorrow in Brisbane, and you can join the conversations on social media at the Linkedin WASH 2016 group and on Twitter #WASH2016 @WASHConf2016. There are several relevant presentations, posters and training on market-based approaches to sanitation which you may find useful for your work.

Look forward to seeing at least some of you either in Brisbane or Hanoi!

Best regards,