WASHplus Weekly: Focus on Sanitation as a Business

Issue 163 | Sept 26, 2014 | Focus on Sanitation as a Business

This issue highlights some recent reports, conference proceedings, catalogs, and blog posts on sanitation entrepreneurs, sanitation markets, and other sanitation as a business issues. Included are summaries of a conference in Uganda; a Hystra report on household mobile toilets; catalogs of sanitation business opportunities; and blog posts from Sanivation, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor Enterprises, and others.


Designing the Next Generation of Sanitation Businesses: A Report by Hystra for the Toilet Board Coalition, 2014. J Graf, Hystra. (Link)
This report discusses two models that combine an aspirational value proposition for base of the pyramid (BoP) families with a strong potential for financial sustainability. In rural areas, the authors analyzed projects that activate local rural sanitation markets. In urban areas, they analyzed initiatives servicing mobile home toilets. Based on an in-depth analysis of both the best practices and greatest challenges from a pool of 12 representative projects, the report suggests strategies to overcome challenges to sustainability and scale.

Sanitation Business Catalogue: Let’s Rapidly Scale Sanitation Services to the Poor!2014. APPSANI. (Link)
This catalog contains 27 business propositions of sanitation sector entrepreneurs from all over the world. Together, they offer a variety of services, and all of them are looking to consolidate or expand their business and bring sanitation services to scale for customers at the BoP. This catalog was compiled for the Sanitation Business Matchmaking event at the first BoP World Convention & Expo in Singapore, August 2014.

Ready for Funding: Innovative Sanitation Businesses, 2014. Aqua for All. (Link)
This document was developed to give insights into promising prospects in the sanitation sector in small towns and peri-urban areas in upcoming economies. The sanitation sector offers long term, slow, and stable return on investments. The challenge of the sanitation industry is to access to the right blend of financial products.

Sanitation as a Business: Unclogging the Blockages, 2014. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (Link)
This report summarizes a two-day conference in Uganda. One of the results was recognition among participants of the importance of business- and market-based approaches as keys to address some of the main barriers for scaling sustainable sanitation solutions. While there is still a long way to go toward universal usage of these approaches, participants were able to get a much richer understanding of the principles and key tenets of how sanitation as a business programming works; many participants intended to go back to their respective environments and apply the lessons they had learned.

What Influences Open Defecation and Latrine Ownership in Rural Households? Findings from a Global Review, 2014. Water and Sanitation Program. (Link)
The most salient factors influencing rural sanitation behaviors that emerged from the review include access to and availability of functioning latrines, sanitation products, and services; latrine product attributes (for example, perceptions of cleanliness and durability); social norms around open defecation; perceptions of latrine affordability; self-efficacy to build latrines; and competing priorities for other household items. The review also identified a number of emotional, social, and physical drivers.

Ending Open Defecation in Rural Tanzania: Which Factors Facilitate Latrine Adoption? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, Sept 2014. S Sara. (Link)
Future efforts should consider methods to reduce costs and ease payments for households to upgrade sanitation infrastructure. Messages to increase demand for latrine adoption in rural Tanzania should integrate themes of privacy, safety, prestige, and health. Findings indicate a need for lower cost sanitation options and financing strategies to increase household ability to adopt sanitation facilities.

Why the Conventional Approach Will Never Work: The Six Great Tragedies of Subsidized Latrines, n.d. Water For People. (Link)
Two of the listed tragedies are: No focus on building viable supply chains or pit-emptying services means that even if a householder desired to upgrade or self-finance the building of a latrine, he/she does not have a specialist private sector organization to turn to, and subsidies turn latrine acquisition into a lottery where only the lucky households in the lucky nonprofit organization-selected areas obtain a free latrine.

The eCompendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies, 2014. EAWAG. (Link)
The eCompendium online tool was developed to be used for: system design discussions by engineers and planners; training events and workshops; classical teaching (e.g., environmental engineering); and as a first-hand information source on sanitation systems and technologies for students and practitioners.

Combined Solid Waste Management and Basic Sanitation: Lokossa, Mono Region, Benin, 2014. A DuBois. (Link)
This project constructed 28 household-level EcoSan latrines and two latrines for public/demonstration purposes. Additionally, a compost site was built to reprocess sorted organic waste together with sanitized excreta. The collection of excreta and urine containers is handled by a group of local gardeners that is also responsible for the composting process and for the marketing of the compost. In this way both categories of waste, organic and excreta, are revalued for agricultural purposes, creating a profitable compost market and offering the farmer an ecological alternative to industrial fertilizers.

THE WASTE Diamond Business Approach, 2014. Dutch WASH Alliance. (Link) | (Video)
The Diamond Business Approach is based on an institutionalized business approach that is system-oriented and driven by demand and supply mechanisms. Core stakeholders are therefore the private sector and its clients (households, landlords, municipalities, etc.) and organizations that enable the business environment (e.g., financial institutions and local authorities). Using this approach, WASTE plans to set up sustainable sanitation systems in all seven countries where it works.

Multi-Level Sanitation Governance: Understanding and Overcoming the Challenges in the Sanitation Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2014. N Ekane, Stockholm Environment Institute. (Link)
This paper shows how analysis of multi-level governance, path dependency, and institutional inertia can be used to improve understanding of some of the challenges in the sanitation sector, and discusses approaches that can contribute to improving the sanitation situation in a sustainable way. In addition, the paper asserts that demand-driven strategies and private sector involvement in the sanitation sector is paramount for establishing new sanitation paradigms and socio-technical regimes.


Part I: How an Ambitious Group of Innovators are Catalyzing Change in the Toilet Business. New Global Citizen, Mar 2014. J Adley. (Link)
This is Part I in a three-part series about innovations in global sanitation, following the Unclogging Blockages in Sanitation conference in Kampala, Uganda, with a report from Masters Without Borders.

Part II: How an Ambitious Group of Innovators are Catalyzing Change in the Toilet Business. New Global Citizen, Mar 2014. J Adley. (Link)
This is part two in a three-part series about innovations in global sanitation, which describes how Unilever, IDEO, and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor went to Ghana to understand the market needs and design a toilet and business model that was accessible to residents of low-income urban areas. The pilot program started with 20 families, which quickly grew to 100.

Part III: How an Ambitious Group of Innovators are Catalyzing Change in the Toilet Business. New Global Citizen, Apr 2014. J Adley. (Link)
Sanivation rents toilets to families in the villages surrounding Lake Naivasha; they pay a weekly fee for the waste removal. Sanivation’s toilets are both mobile and urine-diverting, meaning urine is collected in a separate container from feces.

World Toilet Organization Founder on Turning Poop Culture into Pop Culture. The Guardian, Aug 2014. (Link)
Jack Sim shares some thoughts on the importance of sanitation in BoP markets. He describes the World Toilet Organization’s SaniShop social franchise, which trains local populations to start small $2,000 factories that produce very affordable latrines and shelters, and sell them to the local community.

The Next Great Market Opportunity: Sanitation for India’s Poor. GatesNotes, March 2014. B Gates. (Link)
Just like any other sector, there is a value chain in sanitation. And all across this value chain—from the design of next-generation toilets that don’t require a sewer connection to the development of new markets for the collection and treatment of waste—there is amazing business potential.

Cooking with Gas from Fermented Waste: Entrepreneurs Empowering Sanitation.Forbes, April 2014. F Dawson. (Link)
One Ethiopian project demonstrates the commercial potential of sanitation—and its wider economic as well as societal impact. EOC, the development arm of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, in partnership with WaterAid, an international charity improving access to safe water, hygiene, and sanitation, have set up a biogas production facility that can be sold to individual families to provide a safe method of sanitation that can also produce gas for cooking and light.

Entrepreneurial Improvements to Water and Sanitation Could Cause $480B Swing in Global Economy. Forbes, April 2014. F Dawson. (Link)
In some parts of the developing world, it is cholera that makes the water almost as undrinkable as that of the mariner’s sea. Solving the issues that cause this could be worth as much as $480 billion to the global economy, according to WaterAid.

Bringing Squat Toilets+Sanitation Service to Where It Is Needed:  Dense Urban Environments, 2014. Sanivation. (Link) | (Website)
Sanivation is contracted by a CDC Innovation Fund award to design and implement a new service model approach to sanitation for the Kakuma Refugee Camp. The pilot system will provide Somali and Dinka refugees with a household toilet along with a waste collection service that treats human waste and converts it into materials to make burnable briquettes.

Model Behavior: 20 Business Model Innovations for Sustainability, 2014. SustainAbility. (Link)
Model Behavior identifies 20 distinct business models falling into five categories, offering a closer look at what’s occurring in each of these models to produce more sustainable outcomes.

A Value Proposition: Resource Recovery from Faecal Sludge: Can It Be the Driver for Improved Sanitation? Resources, Conservation and Recycling, May 2014. S Dienera.(Link)
This study evaluated the potential for resource recovery from innovative fecal sludge treatment processes to generate a profit that could help sustain the sanitation service chain.


Planning & Design of Sanitation Systems and Technologies, Oct. 13 – Nov 16, 2014. EAWAG. (Link)
In this course participants will learn how to plan for affordable and context-specific sanitation solutions using some state-of-the-art sector planning tools and frameworks such as Sanitation 21, Community-Led Urban Environmental Sanitation (CLUES) and the Sanitation Systems Approach. By using exercises and concrete examples, participants will learn how to choose appropriate sanitation systems and technologies for a variety of urban contexts.


Sustainable Sanitation Alliance—Sanitation as a Business and Public Awareness Working Group. (Link)

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