Reaching the poorest with sanitation through targeted subsidies


Water for Women partner, International Development Enterprises (iDE) has released three fantastic Tactic Reports dveloped through their work in Cambodia.

iDE Cambodia has been a leader in achieving market-based sanitation at scale, a watershed for design, a dedicated resource for research and testing, and an example of what can be achieved through the right combination of sales, marketing, and management. You can view updates on their work in Cambodia and all resources they have created for this project directly on their website.

This Tactic Report: Reaching the poorest with sanitation through targeted subsidies

How can we reach the poorest with sanitation without distorting and damaging the market? Carefully targeted, verifiable subsidies.

Rural Cambodia has achieved a remarkable expansion of basic sanitation coverage in the past decade, In iDE program areas, household-level coverage has increased from 23% in 2009 to around 70% in 2019. To date, iDE Cambodia’s Sanitation Marketing Scale-Up (SMSU) program has facilitated the sale and delivery of over 310,000 sanitary latrines to rural households, enabling over 1.4 million individuals to gain access to sanitation. However, estimates by iDE indicate that in SMSU implementation areas, around 21% of the remaining market is comprised of poor households that may not be able to afford a latrine at market price.

Financial support to increase the affordability of latrines will be needed to reach these poor households. Microfinance has historically offered a potential solution, however, in Cambodia, microfinance for sanitation has become increasingly unavailable. New lending regulations and total loan indebtedness by poor households have made the prospect of supporting latrine sales with microfinance an option with limited appeal. Other types of creative, non-interest-bearing financing models like payment instalment plans and rotating savings and loans groups may offer a potential solution, however these approaches have not yet shown to be effective at reaching scale in Cambodia.

Download the report below. 

Learn more about iDE's Water for Women project, WASH SUP2 in Cambodia here.


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