Understanding and Shaping the WASH Market in Ethiopia

PSI Workshop

On March 30, 2018, Population Services International (PSI) organized a half-day workshop on Understanding and Shaping the WASH Market in Ethiopia. The purpose of the workshop was to introduce stakeholders to the WASH market development process, to disseminate major findings of the market landscape assessment and consumer insight studies, and to solicit feedback on the draft marketing and communication strategy developed from the research.

PSI is the lead implementing partner of the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) business and private sector engagement component of Growth through Nutrition Activity as well at the prime for the Transform WASH project. USAID Transform WASH is a five-year activity awarded to PSI and consortium partners SNV, IRC, and Plan International (‘the Consortium’), to test and develop market-based models that will increase demand for and supply of quality, affordable WASH products, and services.

During the event, Mr. Monte Achenbach, Chief of Party for Transform WASH, explained that understanding the market is crucial to designing a marketing campaign that addresses both demand and supply side problems for WASH products and services.  Mr. Daniel Abbott, Chief of Party for Growth through Nutrition, in his remarks gave appreciation for the approach that Transform WASH and Growth through Nutrition are working on together under PSI leadership to develop the WASH marketing strategy.

During the introductory remarks, the leadership of both projects highlighted the completion of supply actors mapping, that is, the identification of sales agents, health extension workers, Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLAs), and other business partners in both project areas to support them in their intended WASH marketing role. They also noted that based on initial studies, plastic slabs and SATO pan are found to be well-liked by the target communities. The products are preferred for their ease to move, durability, and hygienic advantage. Another achievement highlighted was capacity building training and technical support provided to partners working with the two projects. Lastly, they noted the team is poised to include new business partners, product development, and construction of model facilities at health clinics in the coming year.  

As the PSI model for developing a WASH market in Ethiopia focuses on both supply and demand side drivers, findings from the overall market demand analysis, specific market landscape assessment, and a qualitative analysis seeking insights from the market audience were presented and discussed at length.

Mr. Monte presented the market demand analysis using the Ethiopian Demographic Health Survey (EDHS) 2016 dataset that revealed about 96% of rural households lack the use of improved toilet facilities with no significant variations across wealth quartiles. As a barrier to use, latrine owners attributed to lack of awareness as the main reason that potentially limited them from adopting improved facilities. However, non-owners consider financial constraints and physical capability as their major limiting factor. In general, the findings from the WASH market development process show the implication of a huge market potential to develop in the country.

Following this was a presentation on the findings of the Market Landscape Assessment for latrines, hand washing stations, and point-of-use water treatment products by Alemayehu Tegegne, Private Sector Engagement Advisor for Growth through Nutrition. The findings presented demonstrated the preferred latrine characteristics of non-owners include concrete slab, covered drop holes, and deeper pit for the benefits of durability and protection against flies and bad odor. Households with existing latrines, on the other hand, called for upgrading their latrine structure, including the use of slab for households without the slab. Similarly, results from the analysis for hand washing facilities and point of use water treatment products (POUWT) were presented and discussed. The supply side findings indicated lack of finance, space, and raw materials as the major challenges to sanitation businesses.

The deeper qualitative assessment revealed five key insights from the sample audience. These are pride and mindset as key drivers of adoption of WASH products, limited role of HEWs when it comes to sanitation marketing, the existence of social disapproval related to use of unimproved latrine or open defecation, and the role of wives, elders, and neighbors to positively influence husbands who are the ultimate decision makers.

To conclude the meeting, the team presented the draft marketing and communication strategy and received many valuable comments that will be taken into consideration and incorporated when finalizing the strategy.   

By Yared Lemma, Knowledge Manager


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