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Why we need fresh thinking to solve the sanitation crisis

Monday, September 03, 2012

For many of us the statistics are grimly familiar: 2.5 billion people without access to basic sanitation, 1.8 million deaths per year from diarrheal diseases, knock-on effects of poor sanitation and hygiene on nutrition and education, devastating impacts on the dignity and safety of people and communities. At present rates the sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) may not be met until 2026, making it one of the most off-track targets in many countries of the world.

To address the sanitation crisis, it is now clear that programs focused on latrine construction will not be enough. New approaches like Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) have proven that communities can be motivated to change their sanitation situation – but that the first step is triggering behavior change.

Over the past few years, many of us have started experimenting with another demand-driven approach, Sanitation Marketing (SanMark). With its focus on creating household demand and improving supply of affordable, desirable and durable sanitation products, SanMark presents an opportunity for re-thinking sanitation – leveraging the power of the market and using public-private partnerships to increase access to sanitation at scale.

Sanitation marketing is gaining strides across the globe, so it is more important than ever that we as practitioners share what we are learning. Opening up the global debate and discussion, critiquing our practice, understanding the necessary complimentary strategies and limitations to the approach, ensuring that a range of voices is heard: these are critical steps to developing the ‘discourse’ around the approach. And to ensuring that sanitation marketing can evolve, expand and flourish as it has shown it has the potential to do.

The SanMark Community of Practice will bring together the latest experience and research on sanitation marketing, to track where and how the approach is taking off, and to make a space to share ideas and opinions.

Follow these links to submit a guest blog, share your field story or suggest an idea.

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