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Consultancy – Estimating the economic benefits of market-based sanitation

Project: Market-Based Sanitation: An Upstream Analysis
Location: Cambodia or Remote
Duration: 5 March – 9 April 2018 (expected level of effort: 15-20 days)
Proposals Due: March 31, 2018

WaterSHED is seeking the services of an individual consultant to estimate the economic activity associated with increased latrine construction in rural Cambodia. The consultant will develop a conceptual model to quantify the economic benefits resulting from market-based sanitation programs.


WaterSHED uses a systems-approach to build the rural market for water, sanitation, and hygiene products and services across Southeast Asia. Based in Cambodia, WaterSHED uses in-depth research to identify strategic opportunities and gaps in the wider system, and then works to strengthen the capacity and relationships between key actors to create a more dynamic and resilient market.

By engaging key actors in the system, including small businesses, customers, and local government, WaterSHED facilitates the adoption of toilets, water filters, and handwashing stations – building a market that functions independent of traditional aid. To date, WaterSHED’s Hands-Off marketing approach has successfully enabled small businesses to sell more than 170,000 toilets, generating more than USD $8.5 million in revenue for rural businesses, and helping accelerate sanitation coverage from a stagnant 25% to nearly 60% in six years.

WaterSHED has been featured in Forbes, Reuters, and Huffington Post, and is a twice winner of USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures competition, a winner of Canada Grand Challenges Stars in Global Public Health, and 1st prize winner of the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge.



The health benefits of improved sanitation have been thoroughly investigated. Though the results of studies are often mixed, there is a strong causal link between exposure to fecal pathogens and detrimental health and human capital outcomes.

Development initiatives in sanitation have often focused on household infrastructure, mainly through supply-led hardware subsidy programs. However, such programs tend to be inefficient and unsustainable. USAID recently found that over the past 20 years “more than half of all subsidized toilets are unused, misused or abandoned”

Hardware subsidy programs for sanitation have been implemented in Cambodia for decades. Nevertheless, as recently as 2009 the availability of latrines in rural areas was dismal. Households had to spend several days visiting up to six different stores – and likely had to travel to a provincial town – in order to purchase all components of a simple pour-flush latrine. WaterSHED started working with small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to make sanitation products and services for affordable, accessible, and attractive to rural customers. In addition to providing business development services, WaterSHED activates local authorities and sales agents to generate demand for latrines, and facilitates the connection of demand and supply. In short, WaterSHED builds the market for latrines in rural Cambodia.

WaterSHED’s market-based approach has been recognized as highly cost-effective in increasing sanitation coverage in target areas. Public health benefits that are associated with increased sanitation coverage are enjoyed by people living in those areas (downstream). However, the economic activity generated by supply-side actors (upstream) has not yet been studied systematically.


This assignment has the following objectives:

  1. Compare major types of sanitation intervention in terms of resulting economic activity. This will involve estimating the economic benefits of latrine construction (e.g. job creation, revenue, profit, etc.) as well as the distribution these benefits across different actors and types of actors in the market (e.g. businesses in urban vs. rural areas, large vs. small and medium-sized businesses, etc.).
  2. Develop a conceptual model to quantify the economic benefits resulting from market-based sanitation programs. The output will be an approach to estimate the economic benefits of a decentralized, market-based sanitation program, beyond the number of latrines built.

Example research questions are listed below. These will be refined further by the consultant after reviewing existing and available data in close coordination with WaterSHED.

  • Estimating economic benefits
    1. How many jobs are created through latrine businesses? What kind of jobs are created through latrine businesses?
    2. How much revenue do business generate through selling latrines?
    3. What ancillary product / service transactions occur?
  • Distribution of economic benefits
    1. How are the benefits distributed geographically, especially in comparison to other sanitation delivery models?
    2. What kind of actors benefit most from different delivery models for sanitation?


The consultant will generate rough estimates based on existing data combined with well-grounded assumptions, rather than collecting and analyzing large amounts of new data.

WaterSHED will provide access to some primary data, including from interviews about inputs, costs and revenues collected from 10+ latrine suppliers.


The consultant will produce a report describing the approach and data used, as well as providing the outputs as described in the objective above.

Deliverable Deadline
1 Application Monday 19 February 2018
2 Signing of contract Monday 5 March 2018
3 Inception report and work plan Monday 12 March 2018
4 First draft of the report Monday 26 March 2018
5 Final report Monday 9 April 2018




  • Advanced degree in economics or related field
  • At least 5 years of documented experience conducting economic impact evaluations and/or return on investment studies
  • Familiarity with developing economies, especially the challenges in rural areas
  • Knowledge of methodologies used to estimate economic effects
  • Diligence, attention to detail, strong communication skills, strong cognitive capacity


WaterSHED invites individuals to submit proposals for this project by 8:00am ICT Monday 19th February. Proposals should include:

  1. Consultant CV
  2. Cover Letter or Proposal including rates
  3. Evidence of previous work related to this assignment

Questions and submissions should be directed to using the subject line “Estimating the Economic Benefits of MBS

Application deadline: March 31, 2018

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview. For further information about the organization, visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.