Creating Viable and Sustainable Sanitation Enterprises: Guidance for Practitioners

The USAID/WASHPaLS Scaling Market-Based Sanitation: Desk Review on Market-Based Rural Sanitation Development Programs (2018) highlighted the barriers sanitation markets face to scale, and identified some remedial interventions at the three levels of the sanitation market system―the core sanitation market itself, the business environment, and the broader context. The desk review identified multiple questions for further exploration of areas with inadequate evidence. This report provides carefully collected evidence to understand how sanitation enterprises can be made viable and sustainable.

 This research sought to answer the question through retrospective analyses of the viability and sustainability of sanitation enterprises in partnership with market-based sanitation (MBS) programs in Cambodia (WaterSHED’s Hands-Off project), India (PSI’s Supporting Sustainable Sanitation (3Si) project in the Bihar state in India), and Nigeria (WaterAid’s Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) project). It was found that few, if any, MBS programs were tracking the financial performance of sanitation enterprises. To fill this essential knowledge gap, WASHPaLS interviewed dozens of sanitation enterprises in the three countries to build detailed financial statements and to understand better their business practices. This report consolidates the findings and recommendations across the three case studies to offer implementers guidance on improving the viability and sustainability of the sanitation enterprises they support.