Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

  • Marijn Zandee
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Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

Dear all,

In the last year or so, we have had a number of (thematic) discussions on this platform that touched on private sector involvement, role of the governments, etc. in scaling up sanitation access. Based on those discussions and our own musings, Dorothee Spuhler and myself have written a sort of OpEd/White paper/discussion piece. It is not an academic article, but started mainly as an attempt for ourselves to collect our thoughts on what the roles of various actors in the sector are, and on how they interact. For sure, the situation described in the attached paper is far from reality in most countries. It should be read as our idea of how a functional series of markets would hang together.

By putting the draft paper here (see attachment), we hope to start some more discussion on the topic of the structure of sanitation markets. Therefore, we would like to encourage people to comment and help us sharpen our thinking.

There is currently no plan to publish this anywhere, but if someone would recommend a good (and publicly accessible) forum or format we would be happy to discuss this too.

Regards

Dorothee Spuhler and Marijn Zandee

Marijn Zandee

Kathmandu, Nepal

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Re: Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

Thank You, Marijn and Dorothee,for all the time you’ve invested in this piece. You’ve described it as a work in progress, but it’s also a work of art.

I wanted to comment on the “4 convictions” that are the basis of your analysis.

1. Governments have a large role to play in increasing sanitation coverage.
2. (I)NGO sector should restrict its role to advocacy or work through (local) government actors as much as possible.
3. By far the largest share of populations will have to be motivated to pay for their own toilets; subsidies can only be used very sparingly.
4. Unlocking private sector initiative and acknowledging the need for a profit motive is most likely to lead to scale the fastest. However, this has to happen within government technical and environmental standards and with a reasonable level of consumer protection.

Most agree that boosting private sector involvement in sanitation is important. NGOs and international aid agencies (USAID, RVO, GIZ) seem to be looking for ways to pave the way for private sector actors. UNHCR, WSUP, Oxfam GB, Oxfam America and the World Bank all have current programs to shore up private sector contributions in urban poor areas and in refugee camps.

What I find most encouraging is that NGOs seem to be beefing up their government advocacy programs. If companies can’t count on governments to make and enforce sanitation laws, they will never succeed in selling sanitation products. For example,

1. Why would landlords buy a toilet if there’s no consequence for not providing one?
2. Why would an urban poor home owner buy a toilet or take out a toilet loan if open defecation is free?
3. Why would CLTS work if open defecation is free and more convenient?
4. Why would a suck truck pay for dumping fecal sludge if there’s no fine for illegal dumping?

What else goes on this list? Can we get more specific about #1? What is the specific role we want/need government to play, that NGOs should be advocating for, as per conviction #2?

Diane M. Kellogg
Bentley University Faculty, Management Department
Partner, Kellogg Consultants
Chair, Sanitation Wikipedia
Private Sector Specialist, SuSanA (BMGF grant)
Marketing Consultant, PRISTO (RVO-funded grant)
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  • Thakur
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Re: Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

I think, the Private Sector should work in collaboration with local NGOs who may have better information on the gaps, needs and potential solutions. One of the vital instruments in their collaboration is to invite and engage the government agencies. Strong coordination by the NGOs and willingness to support by the Private sector are the key to the collaborative efforts. Just doing an advocacy is not adequate in the part of NGOs. All the three type of institutions (at local level) have to sit together to find the best possible solutions, regardless whether they are technological or management issues. In Nepal's context, this is closer to the reality.

Thakur
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  • cecile
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Re: Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

Thank you Dorothee and Marijn to continue the discussion on the roles and relations between al the stakeholders to enhance the role of market in sanitation!

I agree with Takhur that the role of NGOs should go beyond advocacy. All stakeholders need to be compelled with tangible results. Many sanitation approaches only start to make sense when results are visible in the field.

About the population's motivation and challenges you write: " the overall goal should be for the population of a country to improve their health and economic status through sanitation". According to me, this may be the goal of the government and of the NGOs. The overall goal of the population is that they receive immediate satisfaction of the product or service they buy or pay for. The main challenge to change is "habit" (cf. RANAS and Neals, the power of habits) and effective improvement of well being.

In the motivations of the Non profit and non government sector, I would add: "Improving the lives of the most vulnerable groups including women and girls". This can be an entry point.

With regards to the relations between different actors, I would add a platform for dialogue between them is often missing. How do actors know each other? What the others expect? Creating platforms where population and service providers can dialogue can prove very effective (cf. the social accountability approach developed by the World Bank, GPSA), as well as platforms where civil society, governments, service providers and the private sector can dialogue and build realistic plans.

Cécile Laborderie
MAKATI Environnement
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Re: Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

The involvement of the private sector is obviously linked with incorporation of essential motivational elements which are on top of the CSRs. The credibility and input (regardless of the size of input or contribution) of the private sector in the joint program with the government and NGOs should be well recognized and documented. This is a process exercise which may take a long time to develop a workable action plan with clearly defined and tangible outputs. The main purpose here is find out the ways how to encourage the private sector through enabling environments with institutional and financial instruments.

Thakur
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Re: Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

Dear Thakur,

I think the NGO / government led approach has indeed been quite successful in rural Nepal in the last years. Though I remain skeptical about the sanitation coverage rates claimed. Without knowing in detail how it worked, I think part of the success is due to the NGOs working with the (local) governments under a wider government policy. For me this is different than the past, where there were many more local NGO supported projects that lacked cohesion at the national level. This is why the statement in the paper read: “the (I)NGO sector should restrict its role to advocacy or work through (local) government actors as much as possible.” I agree advocacy alone is not sufficient, but I guess what I wanted the paper to say is that we should not think that NGO’s alone can solve the sanitation problems. We need the (central) Government to have a robust policy.

Regarding your second post. For me, an important part of writing the paper was to try and figure out how all the main relations in the sector could fit together in a productive way. One of the reasons for such an analyses is exactly to create a framework in which we can understand which motivations actors (such as the private sector) may have, and how to create a good enabling environment as you suggest.

Dear Cecile,
Regarding your first point, I do agree that advocacy alone is not enough. I interpret your words as saying that piloting and demonstration projects are also an important role for the NGO sector. I agree and will consider that as valuable input for the paper, if I make a new version. For me, part of the “puzzle” that the paper is trying to look at is how to move beyond the pilots and achieve real scale with viable technologies.

Your second point. I re-read the sentence, and it is indeed un-clear. However, I want to stress the agency that people have. This is an almost philosophical point, but I think that the project aims of NGOs should never be “To improve the lively hoods, etc.”, but always “To enable the target group to improve their livelily hood, etc.”. For me this emphasis on the agency of the target group is very important.

Third, it would be easy to put more specific emphasis on vulnerable groups, including women and children, in the motivations for the NGO sector.

Regards
Marijn

Marijn Zandee

Kathmandu, Nepal

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Re: Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

Dear Marijn,

Thank you for your remarks on my opinion regarding Nepal's success in sanitation coverage. As you said, there is leadership role of the government at all levels. NGOs collaborating to design basket program and sharing the targets to achieve. Joint monitoring of the program was also a key factor which has been highly emphasized in the National Sanitation and Hygiene Master Plan document. The role of the private sector is of mix nature ranging from passive to very active. Especially, in the urban areas the private sector played vital role by bringing the business community to the agenda. It has been well recognized that the private sector contributed for conceptualization and institutionalization of public toilets in market centers where the land is so costly. These are some examples where and how the private sector can play in the arena of sanitation movement in Nepal.

Thanks again for providing this opportunity to mention here the information relevant to the context and experience of Nepal about the accelerated sanitation movement within the last 5-6 years to achieve basic level of service and facilities for majority of the population in the country. Without the contribution of the private sector it could not be achieved.

Thakur
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Re: Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

Hi Marijn,

Sorry for not being so clear. What I meant is that the motivating factor for individuals (and by extension for populations) to invest in sanitation is often not related to their health or to the environment. Immediate impacts on people's lives underpin the choice to invest in sanitation rather than impacts visible in the long term such as health or environment. That is what I meant by "well being", it did not mean "livelihoods".
Therefore if you say "the overall goal should be for the population of a country to improve their health and economic status through sanitation", this is the overall goal from the point of view or a researcher (or an NGO or the government)but not from the point of view of the population.

I did not understand what you mean by "agency" of the target group. Can you give a synonym for agency?
Best,
Cécile

Cécile Laborderie
MAKATI Environnement
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Re: Discussion paper regarding a framework model for sanitation markets - Inputs and comments wanted!!

Dear Cecile,

In this context I would define Agency as “the power to effect change”. In my view, when NGOs write in their results matrixes that their project goal is to “Improve the lives of …etc.” they take away the agency of their target group, because, it makes the target group powerless to improve their own situation. Therefore, in my view, we should speak about, “Enabling the population of… to improve their lives through….”. As I said, to some this may appear to be a philosophical difference, but it one that matters to me :) .

This does not mean that I am a “Chicago school” type economist who thinks that people can just do everything by themselves. On the contrary, the paper aims to describe a structural set-up in which the population is enabled to improve their sanitation and the private sector is enabled to deliver good products for a fair price. At the moment, I don’t see how that s feasible without a strong leadership from the government side.

This is also the spirit in which the “the overall goal should be for the population of a country to improve their health and economic status through sanitation" line was written. The paper tried to outline a situation in which we could see real progress. That this mentality is not there yet in many countries is evident. How to get to such a mentality? Probably through a long and sustained (15 ears?) campaigning and strategic advertising. For sure, it would be great to find more studies on what motivate people to spend money on sanitation in places where coverage was greatly improved. If it turns out that there is a common motivator across projects and cultures, that would be great to include in this paper, and as an input for promotion campaigns. (See below for a great example from the 1940s in the USA)




Regards

Marijn

Marijn Zandee

Kathmandu, Nepal

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