Global Sanitation Fund shows how social marketing supports progress in thousands of communities
Written by Okechukwu Umelo   

A new report shows that the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) has supported governments and thousands of partners across 13 countries to enable close to 11 million people to end open defecation.


 The GSF supports Community-Led Total Sanitation, which ignites change in sanitation and hygiene behaviour within whole communities, rather than constructing toilets through subsidies. In this photo, local women are engaged in a CLTS triggering session facilitated by the GSF-supported programme in Nigeria. Photo: Concern Universal/Jason Florio

Strong results achieved by GSF-supported national programmes are enhancing the Fund’s goal of contributing to universal access to sustainable and equitable sanitation and hygiene across these countries.

These results are published in the GSF’s latest Progress Report, highlighting cumulative results achieved from the start of the Fund to the end of 2015, as well as achievements and activities during 2015. The report shows how social marketing and other behaviour change approaches have enabled:

  • 10.87 million people in more than 47,000 communities to live in open defecation free (ODF) environments, an increase of nearly 4 million since 2014
  • 6.62 million to access improved toilets, an increase of over 2 million since 2014
  • 15.69 million to access handwashing facilities, an increase of nearly 8 million since 2014

Effective results through social marketing

The GSF invests in collective behaviour change approaches that enable large numbers of people in developing countries to improve their access to sanitation and adopt good hygiene practices. The Fund was established in 2008 by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), which is legally and administratively hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

As highlighted in the report, the GSF has utilized the following social marketing-related approaches to boost demand creation and fulfillment:

Community-Led Total Sanitation

The GSF focuses its resources on supporting collective behaviour change approaches, most notably through Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). CLTS is a proven and internationally-recognized approach to achieving and sustaining ODF communities – a first step towards improved sanitation. CLTS focuses on igniting change in sanitation and hygiene behaviour within whole communities, rather than constructing toilets through subsidies. Communities are mobilized to construct and fund improved sanitation and hygiene facilities themselves.

Moreover, CLTS is an effective demand creation approach. Through CLTS, GSF-supported programmes facilitate peoples’ own desire to access improved sanitation and hygiene products and services. Central to this methodology is researching community needs and contexts, in order to appropriately adapt CLTS activities. In addition, a key tool utilized during the CLTS process is ‘triggering’, a process through which ‘social awakening’ is facilitated in communities, primarily through provoking disgust and shock at the fact that they are unknowingly ingesting faeces. Following this experience, communities take action to end open defecation and improve their sanitation and hygiene.


Video: GSF-supported facilitators trigger a community in Madagascar.

In Uganda, the GSF implementing partner in Koboko District has effectively facilitated and refined its CLTS methodology. Data from the district shows that Latrine coverage increased from 73 to 78 percent between July and December 2015. Availability of handwashing facilities also increased from 17 to 31 percent during the same period.

GSF-supported programmes have also adapted the community triggering methodology to national and local institutional contexts, advocating for increased government support to community-led behaviour change programmes. In 2015, the GSF-supported programme in Madagascar triggered senior government officials, including the President and Prime Minister, leading to a commitment to achieve an ODF Madagascar by 2018. 

Behaviour change communication

GSF-supported behaviour change communication in Cambodia. Copyright: Santi Sena Organization

As highlighted in the Progress Report, behaviour change communication has been central to the GSF’s work. In 2015, the Cambodia programme delivered and refined its ‘Three Behaviors in One Hour’ (3B1H) approach, a behaviour change communication approach that builds on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector learning in Cambodia. The approach focuses on three key WASH behaviours: using latrines consistently, handwashing with soap at critical times, and drinking safe water.

In October 2015, the Nigeria programme organized a massive Global Handwashing Day campaign with music, dancing and important message: handwashing saves lives. The celebration was the culmination of a month-long campaign that reached 45,000 children across Nigeria and the United Kingdom, approximately 500,000 people worldwide via social media, and close to 3 million people through jingles and interviews on local television and radio. As part of the campaign, children from 210 schools across rural communities in Nigeria were empowered as ‘Hygiene Heroes’ – handwashing promoters in their schools, families and communities. At 10 regional events, schools competed in the ‘CareX Factor’ talent competition. The competition enabled children to get creative about handwashing by performing their own version of the campaign anthem, ‘Wash Your Hands O’, recorded by Nigerian music star Sunny Neji.

Supply-side activities

In 2015, the GSF continued to support and strengthen supply-side activities, including technology promotion and sanitation marketing. The India programme collaborated with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in the organization of the ‘Indovation III’ conference, promoting the development and dissemination of sustainable WASH technologies in support of the country’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ (‘Clean India’) campaign. The conference brought together representatives from all State Governments. Approximately 30 innovators showcased their products, and a handbook on innovative technologies was also released.

Download the GSF Progress Report for additional examples and reflections on these social marketing-related themes. The report also provides comprehensive information on how the GSF works, its achievements and challenges, and the diverse people and partners central to the Fund.



Last Updated on Friday, July 08, 2016 01:14 PM