When Water is difficult to access as in many developing countries, flush toilets become difficult to maintain and use.
Politicians are finally becoming interested in sanitation. Ministers at the Johannesburg summit, at the Group of 8 at Evian, at the World Economic Summit are endorsing the millennium development goal to halve the proportion of people in the world without adequate sanitation by 2015.
Hygiene Centre members are working to help make this happen. Dr Mimi Jenkins, an expert in consumer attitudes to sanitation, organised a 'think tank' meeting in June 2003 to help the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Programme work out how best to market sanitation, since this looks like the best way to meet this target.
In particular they examined new ways in which those who build latrines, usually masons in the informal sector,build a sustainable sanitation industry in the developing countries.
A group of experts joined Centre members, led by Dr Jenkins, to pool their experiences and research, and explore the potential contribution marketing approaches may be able to bring to the problem of a lack of sanitation in Africa. These experts were drawn from the public and private sectors in sanitation, social marketing, commercial marketing and private sector development. The consensus at the meeting was that no other approach was likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals established at the World Summit in Johannesburg to halve the proportion of people without access to sanitation by 2015.
Local low-cost pit latrines provide basic sanitation and offer consumers many benefits beyond health.
Currently 2.4 billion people on the planet, living mostly in Africa, lack sanitation. The Hygiene Centre is working with WEDC and partners in Ghana and Tanzania in operational research to test the hypothesis that marketing sanitation to households can cost-effectively accelerate the uptake of toilets in Africa among households that currently do not have one. At the same time, lives are saved and the standard of living in these countries is improved.
Two projects are currently underway. Mimi Jenkins and Val Curtis are working on Social Marketing for Sanitation in collaboration with WEDC in Loughborough, Trend Ghana and Water Aid Tanzania. Funding has been awarded by DFID Knowledge and Research Programme.
Documents accompanying the meeting are available. For further information contact Mimi Jenkins.
You can also find out more by reading the Marketing Sanitation in Africa - Meeting Summary.
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