Market-based approaches to sanitation

What does it mean to take a market-based approach to sanitation and why is it important?

Sanitation marketing applies social marketing approaches to increase sanitation coverage and use of improved sanitation facilities. The underlying premise of sanitation marketing is that the gap in provision of sanitation in developing countries can be met by the private sector, matching demand and supply. Sanitation marketing uses market research to understand what products potential users desire/need and what they are willing to pay for. It aims to develop a product/ services which address the users’ needs and experiences and adopt marketing tools, and promotional campaigns to influence the target users to take up latrines.

For more information listen to Mimi Jenkins giving a webinar about the principles of market-based sanitation here.

Key research and contributions to this area:

Sanitation Ventures

Sanitation Ventures is a three-year project which aims tackle the problem of inadequate sanitation worldwide, through the use of sanitation marketing techniques, innovative technologies and commercialisation models. In 2009, the project received a grant of US $4.8 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. See more on the Sanitation Ventures main site.

Demand for sanitation upgrading among the urban poor in Dar Es Salaam

This research, funded by SHARE and led by Dr Mimi Jenkins, focuses on the segment of urban poor in Dar Es Salaam with unsafe, unhygienic and inadequate sanitation facilities and practices. It explores and document household upgrading decision-making processes, including existing household sanitation facility upgrading behaviour; the motivations, facilitators and barriers to upgrading among the urban poor; variations in preference for upgrading improvements in terms of sanitation facility design, operation, cleaning, and usage; and explore determinants of demand.

 Sanitation Marketing In East African Cities

This project, coordinated by Steve Sugden and Dr Mimi Jenkins, focuses of on the unplanned and informal urban areas of Dar Es Salam (Tanzania), Kampala (Uganda) and Nairobi (Kenya), where lack of pit latrine emptying services affects the sustained and hygienic use of latrines. The project adopts a sanitation marketing approach to develop franchises coordinating small-scale private sector pit emptying services.

Other partners are WEDC in Loughborough, The World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme, Trend Ghana and Water Aid Tanzania. Funding was awarded by DFID Knowledge and Research Programme.

The role of microfinance in supporting sanitation improvements

Sophie Tremolet, SHARE consultant, explores the role of microfinance to increase the demand and access to sanitation in India and Tanzania. In collaboration with Microsave, Tremolet investigates how microfinance can be used to mobilise private funding to buy or build sanitation facilities. Follow this link to SHARE’s website for a more detailed description of our work on markets.

Publications related to sanitation marketing:

Academic Publications

Non Academic Publications

  • Roma E. and Curtis, V. (2014) Mapping Sanitation Solutions A report in collaboration with LSHTM and Unilever.
  • Cairncross, S. (2004). The Case for Marketing Sanitation. Water & Sanitation Programme Field Note. Nairobi: The World Bank.

Other resources


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