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Where traditional latrines are already prevalent, the central policy challenge is to encourage people to upgrade to improved models

Where unimproved latrines are already prevalent, upgrading to improved models requires addressing both demand and supply constraints. The limited affordability of improved facilities suggests a demand-side problem and the need for subsidies. In urban areas, slum dwellers often do not own their land or house and so have poor incentives to invest in improving their living conditions.


Lack of capacity to build improved latrines suggests a supply-side problem in the household construction sector and the need for training and promotional work. Building latrines demands skills not widely available, and small enterprises often do not have the resources to develop new skills or adopt new technologies. Both supply and demand factors likely play a role, but by starting on the supply side, policy-makers can minimize the need for a subsidy and promote cost-reducing innovations.

A good example is the National Sanitation Program in Lesotho, established 20 years ago. Households directly employ private latrine builders trained under the program, which has increased national sanitation coverage from 20 percent of the population to 53 percent. Madagascar and Rwanda have also enjoyed considerable success at switching people to improved latrines (see figure).

 

Countries with successful experience in getting people to switch to improved latrines

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