How to Sell Toilets? - WaterSHED's approach on marketing and selling of toilets in Cambodia

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  • F H Mughal
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How to Sell Toilets? - WaterSHED's approach on marketing and selling of toilets in Cambodia

How to Sell Toilets

WaterSHED (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprise Development) has developed an interesting approach of marketing and selling of toilets in Cambodia. WaterSHED was able to cover 40 per cent of the Cambodian population, and according to the organization, the coverage is spreading fast in Mekong region.


The sanitation marketing approach, adopted by the organization, has six key components:
• Identify community leaders to make the pitch for sanitation;
• Generate demand for toilets using a combination of pride and disgust messages;
• Link communities to supply chains and vice versa, focusing on home delivery, affordability and promotional models;
• Enable suppliers to be reliable and trustworthy, offering good-quality products, information and advice;
• Make links to micro-financing where appropriate; and
• Help identify appropriate and adaptable incentives.

Two aspects stand out clearly from the approach. One, no sanitation software or model is required to promote sanitation, as some mistakenly believe. Second, the community leaders have to take initial step, come forward and, do the promotional work. It is not known, what would happen, if the community leaders themselves don’t take any interest (as is the case in rural areas of Sindh, Pakistan).

It seems the approach is based, more or less, on the WaterAid’s broad approach of sanitation marketing in Cambodia (create demand, strengthen supply chain, and have affordable latrines). Nevertheless, it is an interesting and successful approach. Perhaps, some follow-up reports will hopefully show its more potential.

The details are available at: www.wateraid.org/news/news/how-to-sell-toilets


F H Mughal
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  • vishwanathdalvi
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Re: How to Sell Toilets?

It was an interesting read. I am somewhat (actually EXTREMELY) uncomfortable with paying community "leaders" for every toilet purchased: great scope for exploitation there.

But the "pride and disgust" idea will go very far. There is a new acronym floating: LSF (Life Style Factor). If people can be persuaded that a toilet increases their LSF, nothing will prevent them from installing one.

The Indian government has started an ad campaign starring Ms. Vidya Balan. The tag-line is "Jahan Soch Vahan Shauchalaya" (Where there is thought, there is a toilet.) Something not quite right with the tag-line, and the ads could have been produced better, but the approach is sound.
Vishwanath H. Dalvi
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  • ben
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Re: How to Sell Toilets?

Hi vishwanathdalvi,

I'll try to invite the watershed team to answer you better than me on these issue.
Here is their website : www.watershedasia.org/what-is-sanitation-marketing/

For what you mentionned "I am somewhat (actually EXTREMELY) uncomfortable with paying community "leaders" for every toilet purchased: great scope for exploitation there."

Why would you be ? The community leader is paid by the masons as a sell agent, I think he takes about 1$ per latrine sold, there's no public money or NGO money in this circle, which is actually very sustainable.

This is an enormous difference with NGO subsidized programs, where leaders are either not paid at all (and don't do much) or they're paid a and it gets often quickly a dirty relationship.

Cambodia has been a great field of experiments and IDE has done a great job too.

Best,

Ben
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Re: How to Sell Toilets?

Hi!

Thanks for the response. I would really like to know how to get community "leaders" on-board in a way that actually serves the community. This will be a very impactful study, since money is normally not the limiting factor (in India, at least).

I think this might be the most important post on this forum. I would like to talk more with the organisers of the Cambodian project.

With kind regards,
Vishwanath
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Re: How to Sell Toilets?

Incentives for village leaders is such a sticky area! Obviously, community leaders have enormous potential to generate demand for latrines and move entire communities to open defecation free status. They are respected and trusted, they are normally articulate and comfortable speaking in front of groups, and natural change agents.

However, Vishwanath's concerns are valid. Community leaders' primary responsibilities should be to look out for the well being of those in the community, and to be their voices in the public realm. Paying them an incentive--whether it comes from the private sector or from NGOs--disrupts this and undermines their trust in the community. You want to know that your leader and representative is doing what's best for you, not what's best for a private business and his own wallet.

We've had a lot of conversations about this in Laos. What we are doing is giving commission for orders to sales agents, who are specifically not village chiefs or other government employees. However, because we need the village chiefs to perform specific tasks to ensure the successful delivery, installation and use of the latrine--including making sure that pits are not dug too deep or too close to water sources, and ensuring the household has the cash owed available to the business before delivery--the village chiefs get a small (about US$1) commission from the enterprise for each completed order (fully paid and delivered/installed). This way, the village chief is not being incentivized for pushing community members to purchase latrines, but for making sure that those community members who have made a commitment to purchase a latrine are supported to complete the purchase successfully.

Vishwanath, I think you're right. I think there's a need for more knowledge and tools around how to advocate to community leaders to support sanitation uptake as a part of their duty to the community they serve, without the need for monetary incentives to do so.

Emily
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Re: How to Sell Toilets?

@Ms. Emily Endres: Thank you for posting a very nuanced analysis. I think you have expressed my concerns better than I would have been able to.

I also think that the approach you have arrived at - incentivizing the village leaders to ensure smooth execution of agreements already made - is a far more optimal arrangement than incentivizing them to force the agreements.

I would appreciate it if you could (over time, of course) share your experiences with the pitfalls of this approach.

Also, Science magazine has published a new study which you might find interesting ( www.sciencemag.org/content/348/6237/903.abstract ).

With kind regards,
Vishwanath
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Re: How to Sell Toilets?

Thanks, Vishwanath!

Check out the ongoing discussion on the article you mentioned here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories?func=v...&id=12946&limit=1000

I'm definitely happy to share results of our approach in the future.

Emily
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Re: How to Sell Toilets?

Dear Emily,

I see you are Sanitation Marketing Technical Adviser in Laos. Could you kindly enlighten me as to how you do the sanitation marketing in Laos. This is very interesting topic for me and, I'm sure other forum users would love to hear that. You can attach publications, as well.

Smiles :)

F H Mughal
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  • GeorgiaDavis
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Re: How to Sell Toilets?

Dear Emily

Thank you for clearly explaining the nuance PSI is using for payments to the village leaders in Laos.

I am wondering though, about an entrepreneurial village chief, who makes the connection between his installation reward and the number of latrines completed. While it is not presented in your program as a direct incentive for latrine construction, could it not operate the same way?

I am involved in a similar project where a small commission is paid to local community leaders or Women's Union members (in Vietnam) for mobilizing households to construct hygienic latrines. We are sure the Women's Union at least would figure out that connection very quickly.

Many Thanks,

Georgia
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Re: How to Sell Toilets?

Thanks for your questions and interest, everyone! Apologies for the delayed response.

In regards to how we implement Sanitation Marketing, I am attaching some learning briefs here that give an overview of the approach and model, and share some lessons learned in the implementation of SanMark over the past 1.5 years. We are also creating a SanMark Toolkit to guide program managers in the implementation of SanMark programs in Laos specifically, but I hope that this Toolkit can also be adapted by other organizations in other regions of the world. It's still under review, but I will encourage our donors, WSP, to share the Toolkit via SuSanA when it is finalized.

Regarding incentives to Village Chiefs, we have tried to design the incentives to be small enough to avoid incentivizing coercion by local leaders, but large enough to encourage participation and fulfillment of relevant and necessary duties to ensure that latrines are installed safely and efficiently (including, as previously mentioned, monitoring the quality of installation and delivery services, environmental health and safety regulations, and communicating with business owners). Admittedly, this is an imperfect model and ideally local leaders would be motivated to help members of their community gain access to the sanitation solutions most appropriate for the individual households by a sense of civic duty. Actually, I'm very interested to hear more about WaterSHED's Civic Champions approach ( www.watershedasia.org/local-leaders-to-p...ommunity-sanitation/ ). Anyone have any information or updates on this project?

Thanks,
Emily
Emily Endres
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