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Sanitation marketing making sanitation attractive to Pacific entrepreneurs

An IWC-Monash University Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project involving four Pacific countries – Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Fiji – is adopting a “sanitation marketing” approach to bridge communities’ needs and priorities with the capacity of authorities or businesses to meet these needs.

Sanitation marketing – working with local entrepreneurs to build businesses around the provision of sanitation – is a proven approach in Asia and Africa, but one that faces challenges in the less densely populated Pacific region where the Melanesian culture of sharing can hinder the creation of profit-oriented businesses.

The project’s principal researcher, WASH engineer Dr Dani Barrington, said that the project’s main focus is on the large number of informal settlements that have grown up around major towns and cities as a consequence of the population drift from rural areas.

“These are communities that aspire to modern living, including modern sanitation, but are outside established infrastructure,” she says.

The Pacific WaSH markets initiative is a three-year project under the auspices of IWC and Live & Learn, an NGO. It involves researchers at Monash, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) in the US and the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

“We are working with local communities and with local enabling bodies [the ministries of health, environment ministries and water authorities] to find out what will work," said Dr Barrington. "In effect we are looking for a way to bridge the communities’ needs and priorities with the capacity of authorities or businesses to meet these needs.”

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