Sanitation approaches: evidence from Nigeria

Nigeria, Sanitation, Sustainability
Door-to-door sanitation marketing staff with promotional materials
Image: WaterAid Nigeria

The Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) Nigeria project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aimed to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, inclusion and sustainability of total sanitation approaches for the poor and under-served in Ekiti and Enugu States, and contribute to wider national and regional good practice.

Sanitation marketing

Sanitation Marketing, also known as ‘SanMark’, is an emerging field that combines social and commercial marketing approaches to scale up demand and supply of improved sanitation facilities. It involves a more comprehensive demand and supply strengthening strategy drawing on social and commercial marketing as well as behaviour change communication approaches.

As part of the Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) project, WaterAid Nigeria, in collaboration with community members in Ekiti and Enugu, developed an affordable, accessible and durable sanitation product, called the Water Easy Toilet (WET).

Community-led total sanitation

The project also aimed to generate learning on another sanitation approach: Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS), a popular approach to increasing sanitation coverage. CLTS works with an entire community to identify the negative effects of poor sanitation, especially the practice of open defecation, and empowers them to collectively find solutions. 

The STS project had four components: implementation, action learning, formal research and advocacy. The formal research component involved an impact evaluation of the two main interventions (CLTS and SanMark) over four years (2014-2018) by our research partner, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Below are short summaries of each document produced during the course of the project, plus the final findings and recommendations. 

Improving CLTS targeting: evidence from Nigeria (PDF)This brief provides quantitative evidence to support the use of CLTS in urban areas, and suggests a simple rule of thumb that allows more efficient programme targeting. 

Improving targeting and outcomes of CLTS in Nigeria (PDF) This poster investigates how to improve targeting and outcomes of CLTS.

An approach to sanitation marketing (PDF)This learning brief outlines WaterAid’s experiences and learnings from marketing affordable, robust sanitation marketing products and services in Nigeria.

Sanitation marketing case studies from the STS project (PDF) This report provides details on the Water Easy Toilet (WET), the SaTo pan and customer experiences with their new toilet.

Sanitation deep dive report (PDF)The report reflects the qualitative field research that was completed in order to understand consumer preferences (consumer = household members needing a toilet) and commercial supply chains for rural sanitation in the STS project states (Ekiti, Enugu, Jigawa). 

Final research report (PDF)This final research report highlights that:

  • Reducing open defecation (OD) is intimately tied to increasing toilet ownership in Nigeria.
  • CLTS improved sanitation and reduced OD in poor communities, but had no impact in comparatively rich communities.
  • Households with no toilets report financial constraints as the main barrier to toilet ownership.
  • SanMark products are increasingly being sold by businesses, but sales remain low, leading to low ownership among households.
  • Door-to-door sales agents are key to increasing sales of SanMark products.

The Community matters: heterogenous impacts of a sanitation intervention working paper elaborates on the findings related to variations in the effectiveness of CLTS within rich and poorer communities. The Sustainable Total Sanitation learning brief (PDF) summarises the key research findings and associated reflections for policy and practice in Nigeria. 

Final recommendations include:

  • In poorer areas, a combination of CLTS with targeted subsidies or credit might prove effective.
  • SanMark in Nigeria is a relatively new intervention with potential. However, it needs refinement in its current model and more investment and innovation in the sanitation market if it is to contribute towards closing the country's sanitation gap. 
  • Policy makers should continue to monitor the effectiveness of SanMark and encourage further development of the model before wider promotion. 
  • Door-to-door sales agents show the potential of being essential support mechanisms to achieve SanMark product sales. Training and support should be offered to these agents as well as ensuring they have incentives such as commissions. 
  • Policy makers should consider complementary policies to CLTS and SanMark that address financial constraints such as targeted subsidies or credit lines.