Market-based Approaches to Sanitation

Download File


Poor sanitation puts humans in close contact with viruses and bacteria present in fecal waste by way of vectors such as flies, helminths, and snails; contaminated food and water sources; and direct fecal-oral transmission from the hands to eyes or mouth. Infection puts a person at risk of disabling diseases such as trachoma and schistosomiasis, but the most common and most fatal illnesses are diarrheal diseases.1 Diarrhea kills around 760,000 children per year and is the second-leading cause of death in children.2 Evidence suggests that improved sanitation can reduce the prevalence of diarrheal disease by more than a third and as a result can dramatically lower healthcare costs by as much as $7 billion per year.1

Beyond health impact, sanitation has social and environmental benefits. Private toilets promote dignity and safety for women, who may face a risk of assault when defecating in fields or using public facilities, and separate latrines at school allow girls to attend class while menstruating. By better managing fecal waste, communities may be able to recover water, fertilizer, and sources of renewable energy.3