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Friday, October 25, 2013

SanMark Field Tools for Pacific Countries

Live and Learn have created some fantastic field tools for planning and managing sanitation enterprises in the Pacific islands. Based on sanitation marketing principles, these educational resources can be used by schools, communities, NGOs and governments to improve and promote hygiene behaviour in the Pacific - and can act as a guide for other regions.These include:  

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

WaterSHED in Cambodia - a hands-off approach to SanMark

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprise Development, commonly known as WaterSHED, is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the water and sanitation sectors in South East Asia. Its objectives are to “bring effective, affordable water and sanitation products to market in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam”. WaterSHED in Cambodia started as a public-private partnership before becoming registered as an NGO in 2011. In its short life it has grown by leaps and bounds in both success and reputation.

When asking WaterSHED staff what they see as their core functions, Geoff Revell, Program Manager, is clear and passionate in his response. He sees their function as to draw in the private sector so that they are interested in engaging in the business of WASH. He also adds the importance of working with the local government to create an environment where the market can succeed. When asked how WaterSHED goes about doing this, about how it is that they have managed to be successful, the answer is quite simple, “identify the obstacles and enable local actors to overcome them.” WaterSHED manages to do this well and the staff are excited about it.

With 75% of rural Cambodians not having a latrine, WaterSHED has introduced what they call the Hands-Off approach to sanitation marketing for latrine purchase, where their role is as facilitators – linking consumers and suppliers to maximise sustainability. Until recently, rural Cambodians relied on latrine ‘hand outs’ from the local government or charity organisations but the need is too great for them to ever reach everyone. The ‘Hands-off’ approach is led by Cambodians, encourages behaviour change and is definitely sustainable. So what are the main obstacles to latrine purchase and usage? Well rather than wasting time speculating, WaterSHED staff went in to various villages to find out. They discovered that potential buyers faced barriers such as difficultly buying multiple parts from various sellers, difficulty in having it delivered, and lack of access to finance or the belief that they couldn’t afford it. On the upside they also discovered that the demand was in fact there, people did want latrines at their homes and did not want the danger and inconvenience of going out in to the field and the possible health risks associated. Again for WaterSHED, the answer was then logical, ‘remove the obstacles’. It wasn’t about only introducing new products but about how the average household could access latrines and how all of this could be done simply and locally.

WaterSHED’s Hands-Off program works with local suppliers explaining to them the market that exists for the purchase of latrines if they are willing to learn how to make latrines and sell them at an affordable price as well as help with delivery. WaterSHED also trains local people in proven sales techniques and teaches them how to set up sales events in villages. Independent sales agents recruited by suppliers work with the support of local government to host an event involving community members. The local residents hear about the advantages of owning a latrine and the ease of purchasing one. Often the supplier will bring a latrine to show, which creates much excitement and lots of little giggles. By the end of the event, many villagers have purchased their first latrine or are at least thinking about it.

The increase in sales and the creation of jobs in rural areas and poor provinces helps the village economy and most importantly is completely self-sustainable. With finance being the third of the barriers, WaterSHED is partnering with some micro-finance organisations to offer payment plans to enable more people to purchase latrines.

The sales events have taken away the barrier of being ‘difficult to buy’, the suppliers offering scheduled delivery included in the purchase takes away the second barrier; and the micro-finance partnership helps with access to loans for either the villager or for the supplier wanting to offer instalment payment options. And the best part? The villages don’t need to rely on WaterSHED. The relationships formed with local suppliers, the training for the sales events and the relationships formed with local government and councils allows the purchase of latrines to be simple and effective. It helps facilitate behaviour change and create stronger communication channels.

The success of the Hands-Off approach is evident in many ways. In 2012 some villages have already reached 100% latrine ownership. One supplier interviewed said that before he got involved with this project he was selling 2-3 latrines per month but in the last 6 months he has sold over 300 and he is looking to expand his business.

 

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