From Bihar to Benin: Replicating Success to Increase Access to Sanitation

It is estimated that 2.3 billion people in the world today lack basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines. Many of them have no choice but to defecate in the open, a practice that subjects women and children to shame, embarrassment and the risk of assault. The lack of access to sanitation globally contributes to nearly 300,000 deaths per year from diarrheal diseases affecting mostly children under five. Poor sanitation is also a major contributor to other diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, and trachoma and a main cause of malnutrition.[1]

Replicating and adapting successful models to expand access to sanitation is critical to address this challenge. And PSI is doing just that – bringing the learnings and success of its work in rural Bihar to urban Benin.

The Sanitation Service Delivery (SSD) project funded by USAID and implemented by PSI aims to support 400,000 people in urban and peri urban areas of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to access better sanitation products and services. PSI conducted a review of successful sanitation solutions to inform its approach under the SSD Project, and found that it could leverage PSI’s experience implementing its “3SI” sanitation program: Supporting Sustainable Sanitation, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Bihar for Benin. “3SI” has now facilitated the sales of over 200,000 quality, affordable, double offset leach pit toilets and the approach is being replicated in Benin.

Under the market-based 3SI model adopted by SSD in Benin, cement ring manufacturers are the fulcrum of the toilet construction business. They are trained to manufacture quality rings to line the leach pit and other precast components of a toilet, and to create linkages with other value chain players required for toilet input supplies and construction. They also provide information and linkages to targeted consumers to increase demand.

Despite the many contextual differences between rural India and West Africa, PSI found that this sanitation model, with some modifications, could be utilized in the peri-urban areas of Abomey-Calavi and Porto Novo, Benin’s capital city. In both Bihar and Benin, PSI found strong consumer demand for toilets but a lack of quality, affordable, and desirable options in the market. As concrete is the primary building material, PSI was able to identify and engage concrete ring manufacturers and masons interested in growing their sanitation businesses. Like in rural India, most households in Abomey-Calavi and Port Novo have adequate space to install a toilet with double leach pits and the right geographic conditions to avoid contaminating ground water.

SSD Benin is pulling from the “3SI” experience to rapidly scale-up and reach over 100,000 people with increase access to toilets in Abomey-Calavi and Porto Novo. Inspired by success in India, sales agents are canvassing households door-to-door in targeted neighborhoods to promote the products and services, and technical teams are recruiting, training and supporting concrete ring manufacturers and masons to produce and source the components and install the new toilets.


Banner photo: © Population Services International / Banner Photo by: Ollivier Girard