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Sanitation marketing

Published on: 13/10/2012

A definition of sanitation marketing is the use of business principles and unsubsidized markets to make it possible that local providers meet the demands of non-poor and poor local households. (Sijbesma et al, 2010)

The WELL project of WEDC, LSHTM and IRC, developed a factsheet on the principles of marketing goods and services with a development benefit, such as toilets.

Creating sanitation demand is usually done by a combination of public and private sector actors. In Vietnam, promotion was through cooperation of the village health workers, the local leader of the Vietnam's Women Union, and the village head, and local masons trained by the programme. In Peru it was the local entrepreneur, the local health worker and the schools. Cambodia uses local sales agents to market a sanitary toilet.

Studies in Vietnam and Kenya also showed that low-income users also want attractive models and materials that meet their aspiration of higher status product. An example are the coloured plastic latrine platforms in Kenya. 

A study of 21 cases of sanitation promotion in two case study collections showed that mostly an outside agency contacts a community and offers a package. However, project staff do not always cooperate with community members. Furthermore hygiene behaviour change is seen as separate from sanitation practices in most programmes. It is also pointed out that social marketing and social mobilization are more effective methods of changing behaviour than the promise of health benefits.

A sustainability case study in Vietnam showed that three years after the pilot had ended, raising and meeting demand had still gone on without external support. Challenges were to meet the more specific technical and financing services of the poor, monitor sanitation access poor-specific and over time, and include key hygiene behaviour changes in monitoring.

Background information and materials referred to in the article:
  • A definition of sanitation marketing is the use of business principles and unsubsidized markets to make it possible that local providers meet the demands of non-poor and poor local households. (Sijbesma et al, 2010)
  • The WELL project of WEDC developed a factsheet on the principles of marketing goods and services with a development benefit, such as toilets (link below).
  • In Peru the local entrepreneur, the local health worker and the schools created sanitation demands.
  • Cambodia uses local sales agents to market a sanitary toilet (video below).
  • Studies in Vietnam and Kenya also showed that low-income users also want attractive models and materials that meet their aspiration of higher status product.
  • A study of 21 cases of sanitation promotion in two case study collections showed that mostly an outside agency contacts a community and offers a package but that project staff is not always assisted by community members.
  • A sustainability case study in Vietnam showed that three years after the pilot had ended, raising and meeting demand had still gone on without external support.

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