Since 2009, WaterSHED has worked to build thriving local markets for WASH products and services in Southeast Asia. This year, we began testing the rural sanitation market in Cambodia to see if our Hands-Off approach had prepared it for long term sustainability.

The early indications are positive. Toilet producers have become increasingly capable to plan, invest, and manage their business. On the demand side, nearly all toilet sales in target areas during the first six months of the year were sold independently of our staff (more on that below). And despite WaterSHED’s reduced footprint, the volume of toilet sales has not declined.

These results are promising for the long term viability of the rural toilet market in Cambodia, and we will watch to see if the trends continue.

Several challenges remain ahead. Over the next three years, WaterSHED will focus on the system that supports these increasingly dynamic WASH markets. We are committed to making them more inclusive and sustainable: mainstreaming our women’s economic empowerment program so that women are better represented in the market; institutionalizing our leadership development program for local officials so that government owns the initiative; and facilitating more effective collaboration in the Cambodian rural sanitation sector so that we’re better positioned to reach the goal of universal sustainable sanitation by 2025.

Planned obsolescence
WaterSHED’s exit from direct market facilitation is not happenstance. When we first began designing a program to build the rural sanitation market, we wanted to ensure that long term viability of the market did not hinge on our direct support. But staying at arm’s length proved difficult. For demand generation, we made a bet that finding and honing an existing local mechanism could fill a critical gap. Now it appears that dramatically accelerating access to safe sanitation without compromising sustainability is possible. Read more...
Reorganized and revamped www.watershedasia.org

It was a long time coming but we’re thrilled to have launched WaterSHED’s new website. We modernized the design and tried to clarify our story, reflecting our systems approach for private sector development. We would love to hear your feedback. As you navigate through Our Model, Innovations, or Research, please send us your questions and comments by replying to this newsletter.

Women in WASH

Women have long been underrepresented in WASH markets. With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Diageo Foundation, WaterSHED has been exploring how to better engage women. The study findings will be released in the coming months. Here are stories of two women who took part in the program, pursued opportunities in WASH markets, and made a difference in their communities.

Bo Sambath - A strong promoter of toilets, Bo Sambath was successful in motivating her neighbours to purchase a toilet. But local suppliers in her area could not fill orders as fast as she was taking them. While attending WaterSHED’s WEwork training sessions, she was inspired to fix the problem and started her own business. Read her story…
Ouen Chamroeun - When Ouen Chamroeun started her construction business she was chiseling rocks by hand to make cement. Her business barely survived. Decades later she runs a successful business with an all-women work force. Today, she’s our WEwork role model, inspiring other women to lead WASH businesses. Read her story...
This year Diageo Foundation released its 25 Year Impact Report featuring WaterSHED’s women's economic empowerment program. An early investment from Diageo Foundation seeded the initiative within WaterSHED that has helped hundreds of rural women identify and use their strengths to be more effective sales agents, confident business owners, and informed consumers of WASH.

For World Toilet Day, it was great to see local markets highlighted in:

Al Jazeera & Phnom Penh Post’s

coverage of Cambodia’s remarkable progress in sanitation.

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