POOPON (GROUPON SYSTEM FOR SANITATION)
A system for creating economies of scale & efficiency in delivering pit-emptying services and/or latrine supplies to consumers
There are two similar problems related to information flows, efficiency, and economy of scale in sanitation markets; one is more urban, and one is more rural, but they may have a common solution (though the technical environments, such as the kind of mobile phones and access to internet, as well as the technical literacy of users may differ in each context).
Part A: Urban Pit Latrine Emptying. There is an efficiency problem of finding ready (full pits) and willing-to-pay customers for hygienic pit emptying services in low-income urban areas. Sporadic and geographically distant household emptying needs make the cost of emptying higher for customers and collectors. A business around emptying pits would be much more viable, AND affordable to customers, if there is more efficient group-purchasing that enables streamlined route-planning for pit waste collection in light of safe sludge disposal site locations.
Part B: Rural Supply Chains. In rural areas, geographically spread out villages and communities make delivering and distributing latrine construction supplies, which are bulky and heavy, both expensive and time consuming. The challenge is lacking economies of scale that make supply purchasing and delivering more affordable and transactions costs for consumers lower. Indeed, the absence of supply chains and access to markets to purchase sanitation goods, or high prices for latrine components in rural areas are often sited as a reason why demand creation approaches alone, like Community-led-total-sanitation, PHAST, or social marketing, don’t achieve sustained reductions in open-defecation in rural areas, because the supply side is not working.
Part A: A system like “Groupon” is needed to offer discounted latrine-emptying services to customers located within a similar geographic area, and needing pit-emptying services on a similar time scale. The system could use mobile money platforms to collect down-payments in escrow-like accounts as proof of willingness to pay. It would also inform the pit waste collection services of the most efficient routes for collection on each day to cover areas that have purchased the groupon service.
Part B: A system like “Groupon” is needed to facilitate bulk-buying and geographic collection of customers for latrine construction components to make the costs of delivery to these remote areas more affordable. This can also provide a price-guarantee to rural customers and potentially advanced payment through mobile money, as appropriate. The system would also inform suppliers about most efficient places and times for delivery in different communities that have purchased the groupon deal.
Part A: The impact will be more affordable and efficient pit-emptying services that can grow their businesses to service more customers. Success will be measured in a decrease of illegal dumping and an increase in appropriate pit-emptying by households as well as increase in household access to and sustainability of urban pit emptying service providers using safe emptying methods and disposal sites.
Part B: The impact will be an economy of scale that enables more affordable and accessible latrine components to customers, with lower costs of delivery for suppliers. This impact should be measured by an increase in household latrine construction, especially when coupled with rural demand creation and marketing programs.