Skip to main content
TitleScaling market based sanitation : desk review on market-based rural sanitation development programs
Publication TypeLiterature Review
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsAgarwal, R, Chennuri, S, Mihaly, A, Tetra Tech
Paginationxii, 111 p. : 9 boxes, 15 fig., 3 tab.
Date Published06/2018
Publisher USAID Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) Project
Place PublishedWashington, DC, USA
Publication LanguageEnglish

This desk review describes the current state of knowledge in market-based sanitation (MBS) and establishes a framework to analyse, design, and improve MBS interventions. It is based on a survey of approximately 600 documents on MBS, in-depth research into 13 MBS intervention case studies across the global south, and interviews with sector experts and program personnel. 

The challenges to scaling MBS include: (1) appropriate product and business model choices, (2) the viability of sanitation enterprises, and (3) the difficulty of unlocking public and private financing for sanitation. This desk review offers a framework that: (a) draws upon and contributes to existing evidence across the three crucial areas mentioned above; (b) helps funders and implementers to design, analyse, and improve MBS interventions; and (c) offers guidance for stakeholders and governments interested in using sanitation markets to expand sanitation coverage and reduce open defecation. In addition, this review highlights the larger contextual parameters that determine the applicability of MBS as an approach within a given market.

Selected findings include: (1) few "True" MBS interventions have scaled; (2) among MBS interventions at scale, there is considerable variance in cost to scale; (3) if funders stay invested, interventions can scale up; (4) the design of a successful sanitation enterprise is an iterative process; (5) a range of market-compatible financial and demand activation mechanisms are required to overcome barriers to customers' participation in the sanitation market; (6) Both the difficulty in achieving commercial viability and limited access to enterprise capital pose barriers to entrepreneur participation in sanitation markets. However, participation of entrepreneurs with requisite skills and existing, often sanitation-related, businesses can partially address this barrier; (7) interventions impacting the business environment can accelerate transactions between customers and entrepreneurs and/or reduce barriers to participation in the market; (8) MBS alone might not be an adequate approach in all markets; and (9) traditional Monitoring, Learning, and Evaluation (MLE) approaches may be inadequate to properly explain the success or failure of MBS programmes.


Includes glossary. Includes ca. 600 ref.

Citation Key86491


The copyright of the documents on this site remains with the original publishers. The documents may therefore not be redistributed commercially without the permission of the original publishers.

Back to
the top