Much ado about sanitation marketing?

Content originally posted on the International Social Marketing Association website. Photo: Copyright WSSCC/Katherine Anderson 

Sanitation marketing is all the rage in water, sanitation and hygiene circles. The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) describes it as “an emerging field that applies social and commercial marketing approaches to scale up the supply and demand for improved sanitation facilities.” WSP also notes that while formative research is the foundation of any sanitation marketing programme, components such as the marketing mix, communications campaigns, and implementation are also critical to the design and implementation of effective sanitation marketing programmes.

The Global Sanitation Fund (GSF), which funds nationally-led sanitation and hygiene behaviour change programmes, is a key investor in sanitation marketing activities. In the GSF-supported programme in Madagascar for example, community facilitators encourage people to climb the sanitation ladder by valuing local technologies, materials and skills emerging from the communities themselves. This is central to the programme’s sanitation marketing strategy, which covers everything from support to small-scale entrepreneurs to low-cost solutions implemented directly by the toilet owners.

If this GSF example and literature from over the last decade are any indication, sanitation marketing is steadily gaining recognition as a low-cost, high-impact and sustainable approach. It’s being increasingly incorporated into diverse water, sanitation and hygiene programmes across the globe, in both the public and private sectors. But is it much ado about nothing, the best thing since sliced bread, or somewhere in between?

I’ll be exploring sanitation marketing more in future posts. Until then, learn more about facilitating the approach here.

 

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