Hi Jessica - thanks for the article. I'd be interested to learn more about the details of the OBA mechanism - how you plan to condition any payments, the options/costs available (presumably linked to WSP's sanitation marketing options), and how the subsidy fits with the more market-based approach taken by most of the rest of the sector (either CLTS or sanitation marketing)? Disclosure: I worked for WSP South Asia (as a consultant) a lot in the early 2000s, including several studies/projects in Bangladesh, and was at the SACOSAN regional conference in Dhaka in January this year, so am reasonably up to date with (and interested in) rural sanitation developments in Bangladesh.
Hi Andrew – thanks for the great questions and your interest in the program. As the blog touches on, the OBA project supports an ongoing sanitation marketing initiative in rural Bangladesh, undertaken by WSP. Given your work with WSP in South Asia, you may already be familiar with the initiative, but in a nutshell, WSP is helping local MFIs to mainstream sanitation loans for market development by helping both sanitation entrepreneurs and customers to access financing, and scale up commercial lending to improve hygienic sanitation products for rural households. The initiative introduced a series of new latrine models that are both hygienic (fully confines waste from both the environment and user) and meet customer preferences—based on focus group discussions with potential customers. All of the models are offset, with a flexible hosepipe for the option of a twin-pit, now or later.
While CLTS is typically associated with the transition from open defecation to basic/improved toilets, and this project is transitioning households from the latter to hygienic toilets, I take the point of community engagement. Both the sanitation entrepreneurs and MFIs are working closely with the communities to raise awareness and involvement. For example, one sanitation entrepreneur works with two local volunteers to conduct hygiene promotion in communities on a regular basis, providing households with a trusted person to help them make informed decisions about latrine purchases and maintenance.
WSP came to GPOBA to further target the initiative to poor households where affordability is still an issue, as OBA subsidies are used to extend services to poor and often excluded populations. The subsidy, which is small at 12-15% of the total cost and only available for the lower-cost options (under US$ 130), is designed to create an initial stimulus among poor communities, therefore kick-starting the market rather than hindering it. The OBA subsidy is released only once results are achieved, meaning the latrine has been installed and verified by an independent agent.
Happy to answer any more questions you may have about the project, or to pass along some useful materials about the OBA approach, if you are interested. Or if you would be interested in sharing some of your experience on sanitation marketing/finance, we would also love to learn from you (I’ve read your working paper on scaling-up rural sanitation in Indonesia, India and Tanzania).
Jessica Anne Lopez
Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid
Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience
T +1 (202) 473-4852
1818 H St. NW | Washington, D.C. 20433 | USA