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The trouble with subsidized sanitation: blog post highlights need to promote sanitation businesses

In a recent blog post titled “Dirty Dilemma”, Public Health practitioner, “thechronicole”, touched upon the problems of subsidizing the cost of latrines in the villages where she works.

The author recounted her experience in Cambodia conversing with a local business owner who sells latrines. During their short chat the author noticed the businessman’s frustration as he talked about the difficulty of finding new customers. Despite the lack of latrines among most nearby villages, the businessman said that potential customers do not want to buy latrines because they would rather wait for NGOs to provide toilets for free.

The author concludes that a system of donations and subsidies can have the unfortunate side effect of stifling local sanitation enterprises by discouraging villagers from purchasing their own toilets. The post concludes with a hat tip to WaterSHED’s Hands-off sanitation marketing program, pointing out that perhaps loans [and thus, market facilitation] might bring more success than subsidies.