Programme profile

SMSU: Sanitation Marketing Scale-up

Programme Index Listing

Main implementer
DFAT, USAID, Stone Family Foundation, UNICEF
2012 - 2023 (Phases I to III)
Total budget
USD $16.3 million
Annual budget
USD $3.1 million
External links
Wash markets microsite

Project description / objective

The SMSU programme aims to foster the creation of sanitation markets in order to drive rapid increases in access to high-quality, improved sanitation facilities and services.

Now in its third phase, SMSU is focusing on achieving open defecation-free status for over 1,800 villages by targeting the most vulnerable, marginalised populations who are still without a toilet.

Market systems focus

Sanitation products and services

At the inception of the SMSU programme in 2012, only 29 per cent of people in programme provinces had access to an improved latrine, meaning that poor sanitation was a serious issue impacting health and livelihoods in rural areas. Local supply chains were fragmented and could not provide quality, affordable toilets for people who wanted to buy them. While coverage had increased to 67 per cent by 2018, most communities were still not enjoying the health benefits associated with very high levels of sanitation access. 

Programme interventions

Sanitation products and services

  • Design aspirational and affordable sanitation products and services based on insights from human-centred design research and iterative prototyping.
  • Recruit, train, and provide ongoing support services to local latrine business owners (LBOs) who construct and install latrines and other products at market prices to customer households.
  • Recruit, train and provide ongoing management and coaching to commission-based sales agents who conduct door-to-door and group sales. 
  • Facilitate connection and collaboration between latrine business owners, civil society and regional and local government to create the conditions for villages to reach open defecation-free status.
  • Deploy targeted, partial subsidies that allow poor and marginalised households to afford sanitation products and services. 
  • Design and implement a cloud-based management information system that allows iDE and key stakeholders to capture key business metrics, including latrine sales and delivery data, in order to streamline operations and the supply chain.

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)

  • SMSU has established a network of local businesses (called latrine business owners, or TBOs) who produce high-quality sanitation products such as toilet substructures and shelters. The programme connects these businesses with a cadre of commission-based sales agents that generate demand for sanitation solutions through direct-to-household sales.
    As of December 2020, over 366,000 households (1.76 million people) had gained access to improved sanitation through this network. Coverage rates in programme provinces have increased from 29 per cent in 2012 (start of SMSU) to 67 per cent in 2018 (start of SMSU3) to 77 per cent in 2021.
  • In order to reach households who cannot afford the full market prices for a toilet, SMSU has designed, tested, and deployed a targeted subsidy model through which poor households receive and exchange vouchers that cover between 25 and 50 per cent of the toilet price.
    Over 25,000 poor households (120,000 people) have gained access to improved sanitation through targeted, partial latrine subsidies. 
  • The third phase of the SMSU programme has an increased focus on developing the capacity of local government partners and other authorities to reach those households that have not purchased a toilet to date, often for economic reasons. Through these efforts, 1,000 villages have achieved open defecation-free status. 
  • The programme has begun testing and scaling solutions for increasing access to safely managed sanitation services.
    To date, over 11,000 households (52,800 people) have gained access to safely managed sanitation through the alternating dual pit (ADP) upgrade product.

[Uploaded July 2021]