20 January 2011   |  
Posted By: Ilana Martin

Success: It’s in the toilet

10,000 of them, actually. Congratulations to IDE Cambodia, for facilitating sales of 10,000 IDE EZ Latrines in just over a year.

10,000 Easy Latrines sold

IDE Cambodia staff celebrate the 10,000 Easy Latrine milestone

Here’s the full story from IDE Cambodia:

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – January 14, 2011 – In only a little over a year, IDE’s Sanitation Marketing Project in Cambodia has reached a landmark of 10,000 latrines sold. This marks more latrines sold in the project areas in the past year than in the last four years combined, a tremendous step forward in public health for a country where only 18 percent of the rural population has access to a toilet.

What is even more remarkable about the Sanitation Marketing Project’s success is that all the latrines were sold without any price subsidy. Instead, the Sanitation Marketing Project has applied market principles and world-class product design to the challenge of rural sanitation in Cambodia.

A common local latrine, which could run up to $150, was well beyond the means of the average rural Cambodian, whose average annual income is a mere $135. With help from IDEO designer Jeff Chapin, IDE redesigned the latrine to make it more user-friendly—easy to buy, easy to build, and easy to use. The resulting “Easy Latrine” costs only about $35 and can be assembled by the families themselves in a day.

“The project began by treating people as customers rather than beneficiaries of charity,” said Michael Roberts, Country Director for IDE Cambodia, “and we have seen that many rural Cambodians are able and willing to pay for something that delivers real value.”

The latrine redesign is integrated with a social marketing campaign to stimulate demand. By marketing the latrine as a status product instead of lecturing people about the health woes of defecating in the fields, the Sanitation Marketing Project triggered people’s universal desire for “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Previously an unsexy product, the rapid growth in demand is now being met by local entrepreneurs in the latrine supply chain who have been trained by IDE in efficient production methods, business skills, and proactive methods for generating sales. There are now 22 Easy Latrine producers, who have inspired ambitious competitors to also join in the booming latrine market.

Not only has the Sanitation Marketing Project made tremendous strides in improving rural sanitation in Cambodia, it has done so by leveraging the market and improving the livelihoods of local entrepreneurs. The program has been recognized internationally for its success, winning the International Design Excellence Award and recently being inducted to the World Toilet Organization’s Hall of Fame.

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