iDE Global WASH
Identifying the cause of delayed latrine use, and changing tactics to address the need for shelters.
One of the things that surprised us early in the development of sanitation marketing in Cambodia was how households would purchase a latrine but delay installation of a shelter. iDE’s 2014 customer survey showed that 62% of latrines (including underground pit, slab, catchment box, and latrine pan components) were installed with a permanent shelter within six-to-twelve months post-purchase. While the sales efforts had successfully gotten households to make the first step towards latrine usage (the acquisition of the basic substructure), the lack of a shelter prevents use of the latrine due to privacy concerns, weather, or other issues.
At 15 months, 95% had been installed with a shelter. This is as expected since the latrine cost is a significant cash outlay for a rural household.
Despite the eventual shelter installation, we wondered what barriers remained for households to delay immediate installation and use. What we discovered was a strong preference of Cambodian households to build a concrete shelter. Households will wait to install the latrine until they have all the materials and labor ready to install this permanent superstructure.
From a public health perspective, it is the underground components that are important, but from the household perspective, it is the superstructure that meets their needs for status and convenience.
The program attempted to improve the latrine-with-shelter installation rate by including latrine installation in the purchase of an Easy Latrine (which required increasing the price of the Easy Latrine by $10 USD). We recognized that the lack of an affordable, aspirational shelter is a key barrier to household shelter purchases. The working assumption was that a latrine was only fully installed once it contained both the substructure and a superstructure for privacy, as a latrine without a superstructure was unlikely to be used. Our customer survey data supported this theory as 98% of all households with installed latrine shelters reported adults using the latrines “always or almost always.” In order to decrease the gap between latrine sales and shelter installation rates, iDE engaged in a two-pronged approach:
- Remove the main barrier preventing households from immediate installation and use by developing a packaged shelter product that is easy to purchase, build, and use;
- Improve behavior change communication interventions to stimulate a greater sense of urgency for the households to install and use.
To understand if our efforts had improved shelter installation rates over time, we looked at the installation rates across the different years of the program. We limited this sample to the customers that have owned a latrine 11 months or more, given the upturn in shelter installation after month 10 mentioned above. We see in the figure below that the program is improving shelter installation rates over time: in 2014 only 66% of customers had installed a shelter by month 11 of ownership, compared to 80% in 2017.
The program continues to promote affordable latrine shelters (such as the Ring Shelter and Easy Shelter) and financing options to encourage households to install a latrine shelter, so that they don’t delay using their latrine while they wait to construct a shelter.