Making Markets Work: How We Got to 10,000 Toilets

By Yasmin Madan, Director of Global Marketing, PSI

Last month, our PSI-India project surpassed 10,000 toilets in rural Bihar, one of the poorest states in India, where 99 million reside and more than 80% practices open defecation.

Congratulations are due to my colleagues at PSI-India for their hard work to understand and strengthen the market for toilets. Ensuring the construction of one toilet is a relatively easy task, but scaling the solution takes a more systemic approach.

In collaboration with Monitor Group (now Deloitte), PSI identified key sanitation market failures that must be understood and addressed through both demand and supply interventions.  For example, on the supply side, PSI found that there were very few businesses engaged in acquiring materials in bulk in order to expedite toilet construction for households.  On the demand side, households were often unaware of where they could buy a toilet, its cost, and of how they could pay for it.

With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with our partners PATH and Water For People, PSI is working to strengthen the market by:

  • Identifying and training local businesses to produce and deliver toilet components;
  • Working with local and national microfinance institutions to increase the availability of loans for sanitation needs, for both households to purchase a toilet as well as for local businesses to increase their capacity to provide parts and construction;
  • Supporting marketing and sales structures at the local level so they can integrate financing and assist households to navigate the purchasing process, converting a “need” into “demand” in a burgeoning market;
  • Ensuring the availability of a product that is not only affordable, but aspirational for households and one that they will feel proud to own and use;
  • Exploring technologies for safe removal, treatment and reuse of waste.

The infographic below gives you a glimpse at what it takes to construct 10,000 toilets – the first step in our efforts to develop the total market for sustained access to and use of toilets.

toilets, WASH, sanitation, Bihar, Inda

Graphic Design: Sophie Greenbaum