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F.21 Sanitation and Social Marketing

Sanitation Marketing aims to increase access to improved household sanitation P.4 sustainably and at scale by developing the sanitation marketplace to better serve the needs of low-income households, supporting and stimulating the supply side of sanitation products and services and by increasing demand. It draws on Social Marketing principles that can also be applied to the promotion of other behaviours with a ‘social value’ such as handwashing or the use of mosquito nets.

The objective of Sanitation Marketing is that households reach satisfactory levels of latrine coverage and hygiene behaviours without extended external support. It does this by creating demand for sanitation products and services and promoting a supportive regulatory environment for establishing a market offering affordable sanitation solutions. Sanitation Marketing, like Social Marketing, is based on formative research that puts consumers at its heart - whether ‘marketing’ a product or a behaviour. It analyses what consumers want and are willing to invest in (demand), what markets can offer and how the policy environment enables the approach (supply). The strategy is developed by applying the 4P’s of Social Marketing: Product, Place, Price and Promotion, to which two more Ps are often added: Policies and Partnership. The formative research findings determine the marketing strategy, promoted by messages and marketing materials through key communication channels (chapter  C ). The strategy supports the development of adapted and desired sanitation products and services by engaging, supporting and training market actors (e.g. importers and wholesalers, masons, prefabricated concrete producers construction material retailers and financial service providers). Sanitation Marketing should be accompanied by a participatory hygiene promotion approach that encourages latrine use and handwashing such as  Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST, F.6), Wash’Em F.22, Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS, F.2) or any of these in combination. Sanitation Marketing programmes must be continuously Monitored M.2 to measure effectiveness, ensure the continued support of market actors and that households needs and preferences are met.

Tools and Methods used

The 4 P’s Social Marketing approach 

  • Product, place, price and promotion (plus policy and partnership)  

Formative research 

  • Site/population desk and field study research
  • In-depth consumer research and interviews (both for latrine adopters and non-adopters T.32
  • Focus Group Discussion T.14
  • Key Informant Interview [T.239
  • Assessment Checklist T.2
  • Household Visit T.18
  • Observation T.28
  • Transect Walk T.52 with a latrine inventory (design, type, materials, quality)
  • Visits and assessments of potential sanitation and other service providers
  • Assessment of potential communication channels (chapter  C ) for promotion  


Sanitation Marketing is appropriate for households with access to markets in urban, peri-urban and rural areas. It is not fully adapted to short-term displaced households, camps or urban slum areas with limited sanitation space. It can be implemented from the early recovery phase onwards but requires a context in which national and subnational policies are favourable to the sanitation marketing approach. It may not work well if government subsidies are used to undercut the real cost of sanitation materials although it can still be used if the subsidies are redirected to the programme’s sanitation services. The methodology is easy to scale up because the research information is likely to be relevant in other locations with similar sanitation supply and demand characteristics. Piloting the Sanitation Marketing approach first is, however, recommended. 

Main Requirements / Investments Needed

A Sanitation Marketing project usually requires a project manager experienced in sanitation programming and business management as well as a social scientist or marketing specialist to lead the research. The manager should have access to a technical WASH team (e.g. water and sanitation engineers, public health, social behaviour change or hygiene promoters) and may require a microfinance, business development or livelihood/markets expert and an advertising and communication expert. A minimum of 12 months is recommended for the formative research, design and purchase and an additional 12 months for the Sanitation Marketing. Staff, partners, private and institutional actors may need training on the methodology. Sanitation Marketing does not require specific equipment but services such as local or regional marketing agencies and IEC T.19 materials and information channels can enhance the approach.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Sanitation Marketing can bridge gaps between social marketing, behaviour change analysis (chapter  B ), market-based WASH programming P.8 and participatory sanitation approaches. It is more sustainable than subsidised interventions as it examines sanitation from a broader perspective, considers hardware demand and supply and engages households willing to access and use a product or service and maintain it in the long term. There is limited but promising evidence for the effectiveness of social marketing in hand hygiene in Europe but there is less evidence of its application in other communicable disease areas and with disadvantaged groups.


  • Spend time and resources on formative research to understand the whole context before launching any marketing activity

  • Monitor [M.2] outcomes regularly and adapt the intervention to changes in the context 

  • Ensure inclusion during the formative research to avoid marginalising parts of the community

  • Coordinate and partner with others to enhance scale and impact [P.9]


  • Do not implement a Sanitation Marketing programme if the formative research indicates that subsidised sanitation programming areas may jeopardise the objective

  • Do not implement Sanitation Marketing in short-term projects; it needs time

Practical Example

In 2015, USAID implemented a programme in Senegal, combining CLTS F.2 with Sanitation Marketing. The programme worked with local communities, households, masons, entrepreneurs and technical experts to design improved latrine models that were cost-effective, durable, blocked odours and flies and ensured the clients’ safety, comfort and security. Different financial mechanisms (such as saving groups) were used to ensure households had access to cash. The project worked through village monitoring committees responsible for mobilising the community, promoting latrine sales, negotiating with masons and managing financial resources (e.g. latrine instalment payments collected for masons). After four years of implementation, 2347 latrines had been sold in CLTS triggered communities.

Key Decision Critria

Response Phase
Acute Response
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Protracted Crisis
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HP Component
Preconditions and Enabling Environment
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Community Engagement and Participation
Assessment, Analysis and Planning
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Social and Behaviour Change
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Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL)
Target Group
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Older People
Persons with Disabilities
Local Leaders
Society as a whole
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Application Level
Individual / Household
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Community / Municipality
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Target Behaviour
Hand Hygiene
Sanitation Related Behaviour
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Water Related Behaviour
Menstrual Hygiene
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Food Hygiene
Personal Hygiene
Environmental Hygiene
Vector Control
Solid Waste Management
Infection Prevention and Control
Hygiene Away from Home


To increase sustainable access to improved household sanitation services at scale


Social Marketing

AED (2008): Social Marketing Behavior: A Practical Resource for Social Change Professionals

Sanitation Marketing guidance documents

Devine, J., Kullmann, C. (2011): Introductory Guide to Sanitation Marketing, WSP World Bank

Nabembezi, D., Nabunya, H. (undated): Sanitation Marketing: A Handbook for Sanitation Managers and Private Sector Players, Plan International, MoH Uganda

USAID (2010): Sanitation Marketing for Managers: Guidance and Tools for Program Development

UNICEF (2020): Guidance for Market-Based Sanitation

USAID (2018): Scaling Market-Based Sanitation. Desk Review on Market-Based Rural Sanitation Development Programs

Sanitation Marketing case studies

Sijbesma, C., Truong, T. et al. (2010): Case Study on Sustainability of Rural Sanitation Marketing in Vietnam, World Bank Water and Sanitation Program

World Bank Water and Sanitation Program (2008): Sanitation Demand and Supply in Cambodia

World Bank Water and Sanitation Program (2004): The Case for Marketing Sanitation

USAID (2020): Promoting Latrine Sales in CLTS Interventions through Integrated Sanitation Marketing