Sanitation Consumer Testimonial

Him and Rohn get their first toilet

Him and Rohn live in a small wooden house in Kampong Cham province, Cambodia. They are both 47 years old. They have four children, 2 of which are still dependent on them. Him and Rohn are ‘poor’ by their village’s standards: They do not have a rice field, and to support themselves they rely on Rohn’s work as an unskilled laborer and some funds from their eldest children.

In the past, like most of their friends and neighbors, Him and Rohn usually went out for open defecation. Their village was fairly typical: only 20 household in their village of 500 households had a toilet. Because the field is far away from their homes, Him and Rohn usually defecated on their property, just meters from their house. They had thought about buying a latrine before, but always considered it too expensive. ‘I wanted to buy a latrine, but I didn’t have the money…just to construct a standard one costs from 250 to 500 (USD)’.

Him first heard about a lower-cost option when the local commune woman came to her house and showed her a brochure for a toilet with a reasonable price – one that she thought her family might be able to afford. It included all the components for a ‘core latrine’ set for around USD 40, including delivery. The toilet was made by a nearby concrete producer and the brochure included his name and contact details. The sales agent and Him talked about the benefits of latrine ownership and how difficult and inconvenient it was for her to defecate in the open, especially at night. After the sales agent left, Him discussed it with Rohn and after 4 days they decided to buy one. With their savings from Rohn’s day labor work, remittances from their children, and some money borrowed from their relatives, Him and Rohn were able to get enough money together.

Him called the phone number on the brochure and a few hours later, the toilet was delivered to her home. Her husband and son-in-law followed the self-installation instructions that came with the latrine, and the sales agent came back to their house as well to offer extra advice and assistance on construction. After 4 days, the toilet was installed. Him and Rohn spent USD 60 on a brick and concrete raised platform and bathing area, some tiles and a zinc roof. They collected the rest of the materials they needed: the bamboo frame, thatch walls and cardboard door of the toilet shelter. Him says that if she has some more money, she will upgrade her toilet, but for now, the simple thatch shelter is fine.

Him and Rohn have been using their toilet for about 2 weeks. When asked how she feels about her new toilet, Him says she feels ‘happy and warm’: ‘I don’t need to go anywhere, I can just go to my own toilet.’ Her children are excited about it, and friends and neighbors are getting interested as well. A small group of neighbors came to watch when the family was installing the toilet. They asked about the price and watched the installation process. Him tells her friends about the new toilet, and when they come to see it, they say they really want one as well. Now there are 20 more sets on order in the village, and deliveries are coming every day. As Him says, ‘I was not the first one to buy, but I am also not the last, because some are still ordering now.’

And is she satisfied with the product? Him smiles and laughs as if this seems a silly question. ‘I am really satisfied. If I was not satisfied, I wouldn’t buy it.’