SuSanA & BEAM Exchange Webinar: "Developing Markets for Sanitation: Where to Start?" 31 May 2017 - recording and further discussion


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  • sayboom
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Re: SuSanA & BEAM Exchange Webinar: "Developing Markets for Sanitation: Where to Start?" 31 May 2017

Steve, Fair point, and apologies if I gave the impression that size is all that matters when defining scale. I used it as a quick shorthand in my notes (using Paul Polak's observation that everything you do should reach at least 1 million people). The overall "vision of success" we define with our partners include a number of indicators, pointing in different directions (business development, reaching the poor, government engagement or uptake, number of toilets sold, etc.). Not all of those are purely related to scale of course. And in the end, size is one element of scale. Answering the question what needs to be in place (institutionally, in the market, on the demand side) to sustain a market driven approach in say a state in India is a good way to start thinking about the things you would need to work on, and what you would need to demonstrate you are getting there.
Senior Program Officer on the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene team
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA, USA
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  • daoporto
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Re: SuSanA & BEAM Exchange Webinar: "Developing Markets for Sanitation: Where to Start?" 31 May 2017

Hi jcharlebois, you are making the right questions, and I would like to address some of them, from my experience working in this field in Asia, Africa, and Latin America:

Q1) That would be ideal, Governments providing sanitation, especially in developing countries, but that's not feasible in the rural developing world. Then, I would like to ask you the same question, following your rationale on Q.2: If governments are the best suited, why we still have some 30% of the population with no access to basic sanitation and 15% of open defecation rates?

Q2) There are many reasons, but because of some NGOs and politicians are still giving toilets away, (affecting the families' aspirational desire to improve), then demand generation is not always easy. On top of that, market creation requires a value chain approach, and interestingly there are many, many successful examples on that, already. One more thing, information asymmetry on decentralized rural sanitation is still a significant bottleneck at different levels in developing countries: Governments, supply chains, households, among others.

Q4) Absolutely, I agree that we need to avoid exclusion, then households in the last mile can get access to sanitation, not from direct subsidies, but from self-construction approaches even if that just help them to move into the first step in the sanitation ladder. Subsidies are not solving the problem in that segment, but creating a cemetery of inadequate latrines in the countryside, because they do not fit the households' aspirational desire, which is very close to a flush toilet, as we have in urban cities.

Q5) I agree with you; we do need to include public sector, is the only way to ensure scalability from a market-based approach.

Q6) 'The Poor" is a too general definition in this field and market: There are families in extreme poverty situation, then the middle-poor and the emerging poor. Therefore that means different segments, different expectations, different solutions and colors, different prices, different bundles, as we have in the catalogs of other durable goods in urban markets.

All the best and greetings from Bolivia,

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  • arno
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Re: SuSanA & BEAM Exchange Webinar: "Developing Markets for Sanitation: Where to Start?" 31 May 2017

And here attached are the two presentations from the webinar.
Arno Rosemarin PhD
Stockholm Environment Institute
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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: SuSanA & BEAM Exchange Webinar: "Developing Markets for Sanitation: Where to Start?" 31 May 2017

Dear jcharlebois,

Here are my takes on some of your comments. For a longer version, please refer to this thread: . I hope it is not getting too annoying that I keep bringing up this tread, but I prefer it to typing out my ideas everytime:) .

In general, I think there some continued confusion when we talk about “sanitation markets”. There are big differences between urban/rural, formal/informal settlements, and between markets for conveyance and treatment services versus markets for toilets and local treatment. It would be great if people in the sector could be a bit more specific about which market they refer to in their reports and discussions.

1. Sanitation is a public good. A public good is a good that is both non-excludable and non-rivalrous in that individuals cannot be effectively excluded from use and where use by one individual does not reduce availability to others. Governments are usually the best choice (most efficient) entity to provide public goods (think national defense, court systems etc.). Sanitation has large public benefits which households cannot privately capture, and therefore are best tackled through public interventions.

I think it is important here to distinguish between provision of toilets and local treatment (e.g. septic tanks) on the one hand and provision of sewerage (or other means of conveyance) plus treatment on the other. I fully agree the latter is a public good. For the former, I think there is a “duty” for most households to provide for themselves (with the exception of maybe the poorest decile.)

. If markets for sanitation exist, and sanitation presents untapped business opportunities, why haven’t local actors/businesspeople gotten involved/exploited that opportunity?

I think the markets are there in potential. The infrastructure will have to be build and services will have to be delivered. However, someone (in my view the government) needs to move first to get the ball rolling.

2. If markets for sanitation exist, are NGOs and their staff the best people to be analyzing this business opportunity and training businesses/entrepreneurs? Shouldn’t it be lead by local business people?

I think NGOs can do very useful work in building the capacity of private sector and in providing them with the information and skills needed. However, the NGO sector cannot be successful if there is no “demand” for their services from the government and the private sector.

“Private investments in sanitation normally require public networks, underlying them, to work. How these networks come to be is usually ignored in “market-based” approaches. There’s no use in a household building a toilet without a network supplying water. That such a network is a natural monopoly creates huge potentials for exploitation and exclusion of the poor, especially when privately managed, because the network provider will want to recover the full cost despite the low usage by the poor.” ( )

5. The few projects that I am aware of seem to recognize the public sector as part of the “ecosystem”, but largely ignore the public sector in the their programming. My understanding is that public sector provision of sanitation is how it has worked successfully in most ‘rich’ countries.

To 4 and 5, I agree. This maybe partly because some NGOs/donors believe strongly in the private sector and some strongly in the public sector (subject to “fashions”). The model Dorothee present in the referred thread tries to bring some clarity in the relations across the sector.

6. Assuming that the poor can and should pay is a very big assumption. Their spending priorities are otherwise (though this a big generalization).

I agree some people simply cannot pay. There should be some form of support for them (probably subsidies) in the context of a market approach that services other customers. However, I think for many it is just not a priority. For those, I think you need a long and sustained campaign (10 – 15 years) to change public perceptions. Again, I think the government is probably best placed, provided they embrace the importance of sanitation.


Marijn Zandee

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  • shannonmearlsmith
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Re: SuSanA & BEAM Exchange Webinar: "Developing Markets for Sanitation: Where to Start?" 31 May 2017

Hi Ruth,
I was wondering if the presenters, especially Aprajita and Sanjay, could touch on the waste treatment aspect of developing the sanitation market. How and where is this waste being treated and how much is that considered within their overall strategy?
Thank you!
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  • sanjaysingh
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Re: SuSanA & BEAM Exchange Webinar: "Developing Markets for Sanitation: Where to Start?" 31 May 2017

My Apologies for a delayed response, somehow I missed this thread. The questions are pasted here again followed by there responses;

1.In Bihar, is there MFI linkage to other services like water supply and solid waste management?
We haven’t come across MFI linkage for services like water supply and waste management, this is limited to livelihood loans only. Toilet loans are first of its kind that could fall under the consumption loan category.

2.Did this project mix CLTS and Market Development Approaches? If yes, what was the experience of this?
No we did not mix CLTS with MDA. However, there were certain overlapping geography where CLTS was done this project also complemented. These areas were targeted government geography under ODF drive (government identifies certain villages each year under ODF drive). Obviously the toilet adoption was higher in these areas but it is difficult to say that it happened because of CLTS MDA mix or because government’s extreme focus in these areas.

3.How specifically do you capture the usage data after the toilet construction - by household survey, but how are the survey questions around this framed?
We capture toilet usage through household survey and the questions are;
1.Did you use latrine at home or went out for defecation yesterday?
2.Did you use latrine at home or went out for defecation day before yesterday? (excluding yesterday)
3. In last 3 occasions when you defecated, how often you used latrine? (Occasions should include today if the person defecated today)

4.What was the role of the Fund Manager and how was the $1.2 million deployed?
The fund manager’s role is as below;
1. Attract MFI for sanitation financing in Bihar
2. Disburse fund to them based on their capacity after due diligence considering the associated risk
3. Monitor that the toilet loan has been utilized for toilet construction through sample survey
4. Ensure that the MFI’s are returning money properly
5. The money is again rotated for sanitation loans (consumer+ enterprise)
6. Mobilize additional funding for sanitation financing
5.What were the messages/arguments used to convince people of the need for a toilet? And also to take on a loan for this?
The project’s emphasis was on supply side strengthening first. The messages were to address the barriers of toilet purchase and use. Emphasis were given on:
a. Pride of having toilet in the house and using it too.
b. Specification of a standard toilet and component used in the construction of a standard toilet
c. Information regarding selection of place for toilet construction and process / time required for toilet construction.
d. Health issue related to open defecation.
e. Availability of loan (at low rate of interest) for construction of toilet.

6.What plans do you have for those in the community who don't buy into your approach since their activities may invariably have an impact on those who have adopted the approach?

The project provides all the above mention information to all the people contacted, people who agree to construct toilets are encouraged to purchase from the sanitation enterprise linked to the project (as the project can assure quality only at these enterprises) but are open to go to other enterprises as per their choice. Those who do not agree are planned to be contacted again in future during next community meetings in the village at a later date. With more and more purchasing and constructing toilets, the remaining households tend to also purchase will lesser persuasion.

7.According to this programme's experience, what are the key drivers that influence adoption?
Complete and correct information related to toilet construction and association of pride with toilet has been the main driver to initiate toilet adoption, whereas seeing more and more people adopting toilet has been the key driver that has influenced adoption at scale.
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  • sanjaysingh
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Re: SuSanA & BEAM Exchange Webinar: "Developing Markets for Sanitation: Where to Start?" 31 May 2017

In the project that I shared during the webinar was implemented in the rural area where majority of the toilets constructed are twin leach pit. Where the waste is accumulated in one pit and when it is filled are covered for a certain duration that converts in to manure and could be removed. The quantity of manure that is generated through this process does not have significant economic value and has not been tested in this aspect. During this period the second pit is used. Therefore, waste is managed on site itself.
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