September 2018

Demand for plastic latrine slabs in rural Kenya and Tanzania

Abstract Plastic latrine slabs provide a cleanable surface and a coverable squat hole opening. They are a simple option for upgrading unimproved pit latrines. To measure consumer demand for plastic slabs in rural areas, we conducted i) a voucher-based real-money sales trial in Tanzania in 2015 (n=569) and ii) a real-money auction in Kenya in 2017 (n=322). In Tanzania, 60% of respondents were willing to pay 1 USD, and only 4% were willing to pay 12 USD (compared to the market price of 18 USD). In Kenya, 93% of respondents were willing to pay 1 USD, with only 1% willing to pay the market price of 16 USD. These findings show that there is demand for plastic slabs but at a lower price than what is commercially available. Amongst households who purchased the plastic slabs, 67% had installed them nine months later in Tanzania, versus 58% ten months later in Kenya.

Open defecation levels in Kenya and Tanzania are relatively low. Approximately 85% and 83% of rural residents in Kenya and Tanzania, respectively, have access to pit latrines (WHO/UNICEF, 2017). Most of these pit latrines, however, do not meet the UNICEF-WHO Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) specification for improved facilities (WHO/UNICEF, 2017). According to the JMP, only 42% of Kenya’s and 12% of Tanzania’s rural populations use improved latrines (WHO/UNICEF, 2017). The World Bank estimates that limited access to sanitation costs both Kenya and Tanzania approximately 1% of their gross domestic product and that these costs are disproportionally borne by the poor (WSP, 2012a, 2012b). Accelerated improvements in sanitation are needed in both countries in order to meet target 6.2 of the sustainable development goal (SDG) by 2030.

The Kenyan sanitation market offers few affordable latrine slab options to rural households, and plastic slabs are mostly produced for emergency relief. In Tanzania, the Government’s National Sanitation Campaign promotes locally manufactured non-structural concrete latrine platforms (called SanPlats) but sales remain low (Brandberg, 1997; Robinson, 2011; Roma, Rheingans, & Stich, 2014; Rosensweig, Perez, & Robinson, 2012). In 2013, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Selling Sanitation project partnered with large plastics manufacturing firms in Kenya to develop a range of plastic latrine slabs (Figure 1) designed to be cheaper, more durable, and lighter than other slabs in the market (Water Global Practice, 2017; WSP & IFC, 2013). These plastic slabs have a smooth, cleanable surface, a safe squat hole opening, and a foot-operated cover to keep out flies and reduce smell. They were proposed as a simple option for upgrading unimproved pit latrines into improved ones.

This study sought to estimate consumer demand for plastic slabs in rural Kenya and Tanzania by i)measuring willingness to pay (WTP) and ii) assessing installation rates.

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