Toilets: Balancing customer aspirations and affordability

Fulfilling a customer’s request for a permanent toilet in Vanuatu

The Community-based Sanitation Enterprises established in PNG, Vanuatu, Fiji and Solomon Islands are continuing their sales and construction of toilets. In Vanuatu a customer has purchased a toilet with a permanent building constructed of concrete. In Kimbe, PNG, the sanitation enterprises have built pour-flush toilets for an elementary school. They are also trialling a low cost biogas and septic toilet system – which will be the first technology of its kind in West New Britain province. The low-cost biogas and septic toilet system was built during a four-day construction training as part of the on-going mentoring and monitoring for the two sanitation enterprises in Kimbe.

The construction work on the pilot low cost household biogas and septic system in PNG

An important part of the sanitation marketing approach is matching affordability to customer aspirations. The sanitation enterprises have different strategies for working with customers when aspirations for a type of toilet don’t fit their income. These include:

  • Sales staff are mentored to practice building sales conversations that direct customers to an affordable alternative to the option they initially sought (for example a VIP when they initially wanted a flush toilet).
  • A range of toilet design and payment options are provided, with steps of improvement based on additional payments (start with a VIP, then move to a pour flush with septic, etc)
  • Cost reduction opportunities through customers providing some labour and materials
  • Looking for opportunities for households to share toilets
  • Selling toilet parts in components (seat riser, slab, septic, shelter, etc

Live & Learn has also worked with a technical advisor from Engineers Without Borders to  adpat the toilet designs so they are as affordable as possible.

Digging the pits for pour flush toilets at an elementary school in PNG
Live & Learn’s sanitation marketing program is funded by the Australian government through the Civil Society WASH Fund. Support provided by Engineers Without Borders if funded by the Australian government through the ANCP program.

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