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What is the best way to re-design and develop lower cost latrine products and services to meet the needs and desires of low income households?

We recommend Human Centered Design as the approach to use to re-design and develop lower cost latrine products and services to meet the needs and desires of low income households (see the IDEO Human Centered Design Toolkit).  First and foremost you will need to find out what low-income consumers want from a good latrine (and what they don’t want), and then work with local businesses to profitably produce and deliver the revised designs at affordable prices to target consumers.  The approach is iterative, and requires making prototypes, and going back to consumers several times until you get the product ‘right’. The team will need to learn what low income households want from a good latrine, the design features and functions they want, as well as how to make the process of purchasing and installing the new latrine design much easier and cheaper for them to do. At the same time, the team will need to understand and work with local businesses in the supply chain to test the new prototype models and designs that consumers want, to see how to lower production and distribution costs.  More detailed practical guidance on the process of engaging sanitation consumers and developing low-cost attractive products can be found in these two new UNICEF-sponsored Sanitation Marketing Guidance Notes:

#2 Consumer Behavior

#5 Getting the Product Right 

For practical tips on working with local businesses to develop and deliver new sanitation products and services, and how to evaluate business models for sanitation, I would recommend you look at Guidance Notes #3 and #4 of this same series:

#3 Business Models and Supply Chains

#4 Business development 

Answer thanks to:

Mimi Jenkins

Research Engineer in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California at Davis
Honorary lecturer in the Environmental Health Group at LSHTM


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