Project Lead(s): Hengly Aun
The global sanitation challenge is immense, with some 2.6 billion people currently lacking safe sanitation.
Despite decades of NGO and government schemes to give away toilets in Southeast Asia, the overall coverage rate remains stubbornly low, with significant public health ramifications.
WaterSHED takes a systems approach to make markets work for water, sanitation and hygiene, emerging as a true value-chain development success story.The organization works to catalyze Cambodia’s private sector to respond to the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) needs of rural consumers.
Through their Hands-Off approach, WaterSHED acts as a facilitator, providing technical training to small businesses, increasing demand of toilets through community sales and marketing activities, and designing innovative, affordable products consumers aspire to own. As a result, the organization has enabled the sale of more than 135,000 toilets and helped small businesses generate more than $6 million USD in revenues.
The organization has also extended activities to ensure the market is inclusive, engaging women to participate in the water, sanitation and hygiene market as sales agents, small business owners and informed customers.
To accelerate sanitation coverage in Cambodia and ensure the market’s sustainability, WaterSHED began recruiting local government officials to be key promoters of toilets. The pilot Civic Champions program provided leadership skills and development training to a cohort of highly motivated councillors, with hard targets for improving sanitation in their local communities.
WaterSHED’s systems approach to building a water, sanitation and hygiene market has proven to be one of the most cost-effective ways to increase sanitation coverage in Cambodia. The organization has played a significant role in doubling the rate of new latrine uptake in the country since their activities began in 2010.
WaterSHED unlocked further market potential for toilets with the launch of the Civic Champions pilot program in 2014. Civic Champions is a cutting-edge leadership development program for locally elected government representatives. As part of the project, a cohort of 46 councillors undertook a targeted sanitation challenge to increase latrine coverage in their respective communities, enabling the sale of an additional 5,287 toilets and reaching nearly 25,000 people. These toilets were mostly purchased from small businesses supported by WaterSHED through their market-based approach.
Across the two districts where the pilot program was implemented, an average of 217 new toilets were purchased each month, representing a 400% increase in sales, compared with an average of 55 toilet sales per month in the same period across the eight provinces.
WaterSHED has since expanded Civic Champions across eight provinces in Cambodia. In 2015, a new group of 203 local representatives invested their time and money into further developing their leadership skills. Their commitment to the program resulted in the sale of more than 15,000 toilets and accelerated sanitation coverage by as much as 32% in some communities.