Urinals XII

How do you improve sanitation in Cambodia when education campaigns and free toilets haven’t worked? The BBC reports on “shame marketing” by International Development Enterprises (IDE) that is trying to turn the toilet into a status symbol.

IDE – which is itself funded by donors including the World Bank – developed a fresh approach, using disgust and shame to make people want a toilet enough to buy one at full price.

The young facilitator at the presentation in Sleng is half stand-up comedian, half sanitation ideologue. Chhun Dina adding up figures Chhun Dina tells villagers they are surrounded by their own excrement. As she moves between her audience and the whiteboard, Chhun Dina manages to elicit hearty laughter and rueful smiles even as she tells the villagers in no uncertain terms that they are living among their own filth…

“It’s like a mountain. Imagine if it rained and that mountain fell into the river. You’d be washing and bathing in your own excrement.”

Before the presentation, only two of more than 40 houses in Sleng had a toilet. But when Chhun Dina finished, there was a rush to sign up to buy one.

This is where the second part of IDE’s plan comes in. It commissioned a design for a low-cost “easy latrine” which, with a little training, local businesses could make and sell. The price to the newly-enlightened villagers is around $30 – and the easy latrine can be installed and ready to use on the same day that someone decides they no longer want to live without a toilet.

Hat tip: Dorothy Hall.

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