Using microfinance to facilitate household investment in sanitation in rural Cambodia

Using microfinance to facilitate household investment in sanitation in rural Cambodia. Health Policy and Planning, November 2016.

Authors: Kimberley H Geissler-1, Jeffrey Goldberg-2 and Sheila Leatherman-3. Author affiliations: 1 – University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Amherst, MA 01003, USA. 2 – Office of Water, Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment, US Agency for International Development, Washington, DC, USA. 3 – Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Improved sanitation access is extremely low in rural Cambodia. Non-governmental organizations have helped build local supply side latrine markets to promote household latrine purchase and use, but households cite inability to pay as a key barrier to purchase.

To examine the extent to which microfinance can be used to facilitate household investment in sanitation, we applied a two-pronged assessment: (1) to address the gap between interest in and use of microfinance, we conducted a pilot study to assess microfinance demand and feasibility of integration with a sanitation marketing program and (2) using a household survey (n = 935) at latrine sales events in two rural provinces, we assessed attitudes about microfinance and financing for sanitation.

We found substantial stated intent to use a microfinance institution (MFI) loan to purchase a latrine (27%). Five percent of current owners used an MFI loan for latrine purchase.

Credit officers attended 159 events, with 4761 individuals attending. Actual loan applications were low, with 4% of sales events attendees applying for a loan immediately following the event (mean = 1.7 loans per event).

Ongoing coordination was challenging, requiring management commitment from the sanitation marketing program and commitment to social responsibility from the MFI.

Given the importance of improving sanitation coverage and concomitant health impacts, linking functional sanitation markets to already operational finance markets has the potential to give individuals and households more financial flexibility.

Further product research and better integration of private vendors and financing modalities are necessary to create a scalable microfinance option for sanitation markets.

UNC Water Institute WASH Research Policy Digests

These useful UNC research digests discuss a key article and include literature reviews on the selected topic:

Issue #1, July 2015: Sanitation Subsidies
Our first Digest deals with the difficult issue of when and how to use subsidies for on-site sanitation.

Issue #2, October 2015: WaSH in Healthcare Facilities
Issue two of the WasH Policy Research Digest digs in to the critical issue of WaSH in health care facilities, including a detailed review of WHO and UNICEF’s 2015 report on the topic and a synthesis of literature and solutions to address its impact on infection, mortality, maternal and neonatal health.

Issue #3, March 2016: Handpump Functionality Monitoring
The third issue of the WaSH Policy Research Digest focuses on handpump functionality monitoring. This issue of the Digest explores recent literature on this topic, focusing on policy implications, recommendations, and a call for standardized functionality measurements.

Issue #4, August 2016: Sanitation and Nutrition
Our fourth digest addresses sanitation and nutrition. This issue explores recent literature and the emerging evidence base on the connection between sanitation, nutritional outcomes, and child stunting.

The Art And Science Of Winning The Poo War

The Art And Science Of Winning The Poo War, by by Shaon Lahiri , Jyotsna Puri, Businessworld.In.

The Swachh Bharat Mission needs to refocus. Toilets may indeed be more important than temples, but only if they are used

A silent war has gripped India as the forces of open defecation threaten to defeat our overall health. In 2014 Prime Minister Modi, armed with a broom and a now familiar public relations machine, swept the streets of Delhi and Assi Ghat, and exhorted us to dream about winning this war and think of a Swachh Bharat by 2019.

The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), like its predecessors (Total Sanitation Campaign, Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan, Central Rural Sanitation Programme, the first national sanitation plan in 1954), is doomed to fail. india-sanitation

It will fail to achieve its target of an open defecation free India. Even if constructing toilets for all Indians is (miraculously) achieved, building and using toilets are not the same thing.

A survey by the research institute for compassionate economics (r.i.c.e.) conducted in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh found that only 48% of rural households that had a functioning latrine still had at least one household member defecating in the open.

In fact, the percentage of verified open defecation-free (ODF) villages in India stands at a paltry 5%, including those verified before SBM.

Standing in the way of toilet use are a number of factors, such as poorly constructed toilets, lack of access to toilets, the convenience of open defecation, and sociocultural perceptions about impurity and fear of a pit latrine filling up with no recourse for emptying it.

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Sanitation options for sustainability: reflections from the UNC Conference

Sanitation options for sustainability: reflections from the UNC Conference, by Lillian Mbeki, Social Marketing and Private Sector Development Specialist Consultant at Water& Sanitation Program. conference-presentation

I am attending the 2016 Water and Health conference organised by the Water Institute at University of North Carolina USA. The conference whose theme is ‘where science meets policy’ focuses on safe drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and water resources. Participants and presenters include members of academia, governments, development banks, donor agencies and WASH implementers.

When thinking about ODF sustainability and moving up the sanitation ladder an important consideration has been introduction of sanitation options/products. A number of organisation s have to date tried many product options and intervention strategies with varied levels of results. iDE had some lessons to share on what they have learnt from implementing sanitation marketing in Cambodia.

What is the ideal product for households? What is stopping you?
The discussion started with this simple question. The core message being that most programs design products based on some defined assumptions and then invest in changing behaviours of communities to adopt that product. When in essence a consumer centric approach has been seen to be more effective. The iDE experience in both toilet and water filter product development and marketing, led to the conclusion that listening to the consumer’s voice, obeying it and correctly interpreting the consumer’s desire results in much higher program success even at the BoP. So the question is, if we know this, why are we not doing it? Answers to this question include: fear of risk by private sector, lack of data, difficulty in building consensus, limited funding, affordability and lack of appropriate solutions.

If we identify the barriers to developing and designing the ideal solutions for households then we can identify possible solutions to removing the bottlenecks. This is usually the point at which different partnerships with various strengths are identified and the strategy becomes how to leverage their capabilities to make the ideal happen.

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State Department Notice of Intent To Solicit Comments and Conduct a Public Scoping Meeting on a Global Water Strategy

State Department Notice of Intent To Solicit Comments and Conduct a Public Scoping Meeting on a Global Water Strategy – October 17, 2016.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of State (Department) will host a listening session to solicit public comments on the development and content of a strategy to address global water challenges including, but not necessarily limited to: (1) Increasing access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene; (2) improving water resource management; and (3) promoting cooperation on shared waters. Participants will be asked to provide brief remarks (up to 3 minutes) highlighting specific challenges that should be addressed and opportunities to strengthen U.S. engagement on international water issues.

DATES: This session will take place on Friday, October 28 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. in the George C. Marshall Center at the U.S. Department of State, 2201 C St. NW., (21st Street Entrance), Washington, DC. Attendees must confirm their attendance at A photo identification will be necessary to attend the session. Written comments must be received no later than November 12, 2016.

Written comments may be submitted to by following the prompts.

Comments may also be submitted by mail, addressed to: Global Water Strategy Manager, Office of Conservation and Water, Room 2657, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20520 and/or by email to Written comments may also be submitted at the public scoping meeting on Friday, October 28, 2016 from 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Urban Sanitation: A Messy Problem for Habitat III

Urban Sanitation: A Messy Problem for Habitat III | Source: Reuters, Oct 15, 2016 | by Alberto Wilde, Ghana Country Director | Global Communities

As we approach Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador, one of the most essential topics that must be addressed in the New Urban Agenda is urban sanitation.

One in three people in the world lack access to a toilet. The traditional view is that lack of access to toilets is a problem in rural areas. But with rapid urbanization across the developing world, the number of people without access to proper sanitation who live in cities is growing rapidly. This serious urban problem presents a host of new challenges for cities looking to improve sanitation. Since 2011, with Global Communities, I have overseen a series of water and sanitation projects in both rural and urban Ghana. During that time, we’ve identified some of the biggest challenges of urban sanitation:

Lack of planning — In the wealthier neighborhoods of cities that were developed with proper urban planning, providing a toilet can be as simple and low cost as hooking it up to the existing sewer system. But rapid urban expansion in developing countries tends to be in slums which grow haphazardly, with little in the way of planning for the expansion of services, and often little taxation to pay for these services.

Lack of space — In the rural setting the biggest challenge for construction of latrines is finding affordable materials for construction. In an urban environment this is less of a problem as materials can be sourced fairly easily. Instead, the problem is a lack of space. Space, especially in crowded slums, comes at a premium.

Land titling — Most residents in urban settings do not own their land. Whether they are squatting or renting legally, they are not legally permitted to make improvements like adding a toilet, even if they wish to do so. Instead, it is up to the landlord to take the initiative and bear the cost, something that is rarely a priority, especially when they can increase their earnings by adding another room to rent as opposed to a bathroom.

Governance and enforcement — the Government of Ghana has a laudable policy that new homes must have a latrine. However, even when such laws are passed, enforcement can be difficult. Unscrupulous landlords may put a latrine into the architect’s plans but when construction takes place, the space changes function. It is essential that plans are checked both at the beginning and during construction to ensure laws are being followed.

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Fed up with no sewers, Pakistan’s slum residents go DIY

Fed up with no sewers, Pakistan’s slum residents go DIY | Source: Reuters, Oct 13 2016 |

In Orangi Town, home to an estimated 2.4 million people, residents have given up waiting for the government to install public services – and built them by hand

KARACHI, Pakistan, Oct 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – For Sultana Javed, one of dozens of residents living without proper sanitation on her street in the Orangi Town slum, the final straw came when her toddler daughter fell into the soak pit where the family disposed of their waste.


An aerial view of informal settlements in Orangi Town, Karachi on October 4, 2016. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Aamir Saeed

Since moving to the Gulshan-e-Zia area of the slum in Karachi nine years earlier, Javed had poured waste into the soak pit, a porous chamber that lets sewage soak into the ground and is often used by communities that lack toilets.

Javed, whose son caught dengue fever from mosquitoes near the pit outside their home, began mobilising others among 22 families on her street to install their own sewerage system.

“We are fed up with stench of wastewater and frequent mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever. So, we have decided to lay a sewerage pipeline in our street on a self-help basis,” Javed, 45, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Read the complete article.