Sanitation as a business
Unclogging the blockages

Published in: 2016
Pages: 38

Nothomb, C. et al.

The first Unclogging the Blockages conference took place in Kampala, Uganda from Feb 18-20 with the aim of putting on the table some of the major challenges facing the scale up of sustainable sanitation as well as in in collaborating towards innovative solutions. The conference gathered a diverse array of over 150 individuals both from within and outside the sanitation sector, including those working on business approaches, finance, health, demand creation, and technology development. These people represented government, donors, NGOs and the private sector and came from 21 countries. The organizers were honored that Honorable Dr. Ruhakana Ruganda, Minister of Health and Honorable Betty Bigombe, State Minister for Water Resources represented the Government of Uganda at the conference.
Our sense as organizers was that this initial gathering was purposeful and practical. The results of the conversations and group work yielded the following top level results:

 A recognition of the importance of sanitation as a business and market based approaches as key to address some of the main barriers for scaling sustainable sanitation solutions. While there is still a long way to go towards universal usage of these approaches, participants were able to get a much richer understanding of the principles and key tenets of how sanitation as a business programming works; many participants intended to go back to their respective environments and apply the lessons they had learned.
 A commitment to push for greater integration in sanitation programming between the housing, energy, business, health, and education sectors in order to allow for sustainable city and district – wide sanitation services. This will look different in rural and urban environments but it was clear that the sanitation sector must engage these other partners to reach scale. This effort will be driven by government who will create the enabling environment through an effective policy framework and investment in a way that supports and doesn’t distort the market.
 An understanding that unlocking finance for businesses and households and embedding monitoring within all the work, in particular to see how sanitation businesses are evolving, is critical for the sanitation sector to move forward by leaps and bounds as opposed to incrementally. One interesting outcome of the group work was a suggestion to form a Global Sanitation Financing Alliance.
 An appreciation for the importance of on-the-ground, real time, market-focused technology development and R&D for supporting sanitation businesses to be successful in the realities of the market. This includes not only higher value and more affordable products and services for consumers, but also technologies for businesses to increase their limited margins. A variety of these technologies were on display at the meeting.

Bibliographic information

Nothomb, C. et al. (2016). Sanitation as a business - Unclogging the blockages.


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