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Published on: 20/07/2012

Ecological Sanitation (EcoSan) is a new type of toilet option in which urine and faeces are collected separately – this style of toilet is referred to as a ‘dry toilet’ in Nepal. EcoSan entrepreneurs are getting more profits than other sanitation providers.

This is shown in a recent study on the “value chain of toilet construction materials” conducted by IRC Young Professional, Md. Mahidul Islam, in two areas of the “Strengthening Water, Air, Sanitation and Hygiene Treasuring Health” (SWASHTHA) project of the  Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) in Nepal. The methodology used included qualitative and quantitative methods and interviews with 55 different entrepreneurs, wholesalers, retailers and three focus group discussions with local people.

The EcoSan entrepreneurs are making pans from plastic fiber or cement in the SWASHTHA project area.  As shown in figure 1, about 50% Ecosan entrepreneurs are still making a profit three years after delivering their first products to the project.


The plastic fiber EcoSan pan entrepreneurs are selling pans at around Rs. 700 to 850/ (6 to 7 Euro) each. This includes transport, labour, electricity, shaping, unexpected broken pans and they add 20% to 25% profit nowadays. 


Photo:"EcoSan entrepreneur Naresh Prasad Ghimire showing ecological sanitation pan at Butwal in Nepal", ENPHO (IRC YP) Md. Mahidul Islam, 2012

On the other hand, most of the ceramic pan wholesalers mentioned that they are buying and importing simple ceramic pans from India, Hindustan and Taj brands, at around Rs. 580 to 650 and they are adding 8% to 15% profit per pan. Toilet rings sell at Rs. 350 to 450 per ring of which Rs. 35 to 50 is profit.

Constraints for entrepreneurs

The Ecosan toilet production has gradually increased in the project area since its start in 2009. The project helped starting entrepreneurs with subsidies, training and relevant government agencies and linked them up with communities that buy toilets.

However, apart from the success of EcoSan entrepreneurs many other sanitation entrepreneurs in the SWASHTHA project area are facing constraints such as:

  • Lack of demand for toilets at community level;
  • Inability to link with sanitation promoter in the community;
  • Inability to produce quality products;
  • Lack of knowledge about market prices;
  • Lack of money needed for investment;
  • Failure to deal with competitors.

EcoSan  is a major component of the  Nepal Sanitation Master Plan 2011,  however it is not providing the needed answers to deal with the constraints of sanitation entrepreneurs as identified.

More information and outputs related to strengthening sanitation supply chain development can be read from the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) programme.

Article by Md. Mahidul Islam from BRAC Bangladesh, who spent nine months working for RCN Nepal/ENPHO and SNV Nepal, as part of IRC's Southern Youth Zone Programme (2011-2012). 



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