Tag Archives: Private sector

Don’t think of treatment plants: building factories to meet the sanitation SDGs

Rwanda  - Pivot fecal sludge treatment 1

Pivot Works factory in Kigali, Rwanda. From left to right: Fecal sludge receiving tank, flocculation tanks, mechanical dewatering machine. Photo: Ashley Muspratt

4,900 days from now, in 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals will expire.  If that feels like a long time, consider the work ahead.  And by work, I dare not attempt to wrap my head around all 17 goals; I refer specifically to the WASH goal – SDG #6 – and even more specifically to the sanitation targets.

From my admittedly invested perch – I run a sanitation company – the most exciting thing about transitioning from the MDGs to the SDGs is the belated inclusion of treatment.  There’s finally recognition that “improved sanitation” without treatment is not improved sanitation.  The WASH community’s new mandate: “halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally” (SDG 6.3).  But consider that the urban population still requiring “safely managed sanitation” today stands at 3.214 billion [1]. Serving them entails expanding safe management, i.e., some form of treatment, to 625,000 people each day for the next 4,900 days.  That’s basically a city a day.

How can we achieve such a massive expansion of safe fecal sludge and wastewater management?  For starters, let’s stop building treatment plants. Heresy? There’s a better way.

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The ‘perennial hope’: private sector investment in WASH in Nigeria

The ‘perennial hope’: private sector investment in WASH in Nigeria | Source: WaterAid Blog, Aug 11 2016 |

With WASH in Nigeria suffering low levels of investment, and current investments performing poorly, Michael Ojo, Country Director for WaterAid Nigeria, asks why the Nigerian water sector remains such an unattractive proposition for investors.

As things stand, the true extent of national funding for WASH in Nigeria is difficult to ascertain.


Community members collecting water from one of the two functioning boreholes in Etenyi village, Ado Local government area, Benue state, Nigeria. Adequate funds in the WASH sector and proper targeting of those funds will help ensure we reach everyone with these life-saving services.

Although the country’s water utilities receive subventions from the Government, funding allocations are inadequate, resulting not only in these utilities producing below capacity but also in a widening of the financing gap for infrastructure investments and maintenance over the years. Investment in strengthening the utilities’ structure and systems has also been insufficient.

Urban utilities have not only not extended their coverage in terms of connections, these have actually declined significantly – from 32% in 1990 to 3% in 2015, according to the 2015 Update Report of the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) of WHO and UNICEF.

From whichever angle you look at it, this level of service can only be described as paltry – but it also underlines the opportunity presented. Revenue streams from taxes have not grown, customers are not metered, and the collection efficiency of tariffs and charges remains one of the lowest in the world.

Read the complete article.


Private sector engagement in sanitation and hygiene: Exploring roles across the sanitation chain

Private sector engagement in sanitation and hygiene: Exploring roles across the sanitation chain, 2016.

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council Community of Practice on Sanitation and Hygiene in Developing Countries (WSSCC CoP) and the global Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) jointly convened a month-long thematic discussion on engaging the local private sector in sanitation and hygiene.

With each network having over 5,000 members working in WASH and related sectors, this thematic discussion provided an opportunity for sharing of learning and crossfertilisation of ideas. The thematic discussion took place concurrently on both platforms with a coordinator ensuring that content was shared across both communities.

Split into three inter-linked and sequenced sub-themes that explore links between research and practice, the discussion focused on how and under what circumstances local private sector engagement can ensure sustained health and WASH outcomes.

Read the complete report.

New business-led coalition for market-based sanitation for the poor

Toilet Board Coalition logoOn World Toilet Day, Unilever announced the launch of The Toilet Board Coalition. The aim of the new coalition is to tackle  open defecation using market-driven solutions.

The Toilet Board Coalition brings together some of the most forward-thinking organisations in the sanitation space: Firmenich, Kimberly-Clark, LIXIL Corporation and Unilever represent the business sector; Dr Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Barbara Evans of the University of Leeds bring academic rigour to the table; and a number of development sector and governmental bodies bring their one-of-a-kind resources and specialist knowledge: Agence Française De Développement; the Asian Development Bank; the UK’s Department for International Development; Stone Family Foundation; WaterAid; Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP); Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC); the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme; the World Toilet Organization; Water and Sanitation for Africa; and UNICEF.

Toilet Board Coalition publications

Toilet Board Coalition publications

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Sanitation Business Matchmaking Estafetta (relay race) 2014

Sanitation Business Matchmaking poster

A group of organisations have launched an initiative to stimulate investment in business proposals that will lead to large-scale sanitation services for the poor. It will involve creating both a virtual marketplace and organising a matchmaking event in Singapore.

The organisations will promote their initiative at three upcoming sector events: the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting, the Money2Water Global Water Investment Summit and the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) Council meeting.
BoP-World-ConventionThe “Sanitation Business Matchmaking Estafetta” will culminate at the BoP WORLD Convention & Expo in Singapore in 28– 30 August 2014. The results of the Estafetta will  be presented during the 2014 World Water Week in Stockholm.

The organisations that have launched the “Sanitation Business Matchmaking Estafetta” include: Aqua for All, Euromoney Water Events, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Simavi, WSP and Waste in association with IRC and the World Toilet Organization  (WTO).

BoP HUB, the co-organiser of the BoP WORLD Convention & Expo, is the brainchild of WTO founder Jack Sim.

See the Estafetta leaflet for full details.


Big business pledge for access to WASH @ workplace

Investing in employee WASH = healthy and more productive employees.

This simple business logic inspired  WBCSD, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, to  launch a “Pledge for Access to Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at the Workplace”.

Big names like Nestlé, Greif, Borealis AG, EDF, Deloitte LLP, Roche Group, Unilever and the Hindustan Construction Company (HCC)  have already signed up. These companies pledge to provide access to WASH at the workplace for employees in all locations under their control within three years.

The longer term vision is to “go beyond the fence to advocate for access for all employees along the value chain and ultimately employee homes and communities where employees live”.

More information can be found in two documents:

The guiding principles document includes two cost-benefit calculation examples for investments in urban WASH (piped water + septic tanks) and rural WASH (wells + pit latrines).

The WBCSD has been active on water issues for over 15 years. Around 60 companies and 18 regional network partners are members of the WBCSD Water Working Group, of which 28 member companies, representing 11 business sectors, constitute the Water Leadership Group.

Within the WBCSD  Water Working Group, Borealis AG leads the WASH “pathway” group promoting “business action for access to safe water and sanitation at scale”.

Source: WBCSD, 04 Sep 2013

Tapping the Market: Opportunities for Domestic Investments in Sanitation for the Poor

Tapping the Market: Opportunities for Domestic Investments in Sanitation for the Poor, 2013. Conference Edition.

World Bank; WSP; IFIC.

The current market for improved on-site sanitation services in the four countries is large: supplying new systems and replacing old ones is conservatively estimated to be worth US$300 million a year. But the potential market is much larger: one-time sales of improved sanitation facilities to the 228 million people without access are worth at least US$2.6 billion.

Poor people alone would account for sales of about US$700 million. New customers would increase the replacement market to about US$550 million a year. Private sector activity associated with the market is not limited to the installation of latrines and toilets. The domestic private sector in these countries is engaged in a range of activities, including wholesale and retail sales of materials and components, the manufacture of prefabricated cement products used to build latrines and toilets, and the provision of advice on and the design of latrines and toilets.

Some enterprises also offer financing facilities or are engaged in related services, such as repairs, pit emptying, and septage disposal, which have the potential to be sizable business opportunities (the potential market for truck-based pit emptying in Indonesia is about $100 million a year, for example).

The study’s recommendations focus primarily on the constraints inherent in current technologies and in the supply chains that support provision of on-site sanitation services. It is these constraints that lead to households being offered products and services that they are not very interested in buying. The recommendations are aimed at governments, development partners, and industry.