The need for improved sanitation services and MHM in Kenya
Challenged with low access to sanitation services and ineffective menstrual hygiene management (MHM), the Government of Kenya (GoK) has established national sector policy frameworks to support its Vision 2030 agenda in guiding county governments towards addressing persistent environmental sanitation and hygiene constraints. These frameworks support the government’s goals of achieving 100% open defecation free (ODF) status by 2030 and its mission to improve delivery of sanitation services through the Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) method as well as market-based solutions (MBS).
At the local level, county governments face constraints in planning, financing, and maintaining sustainable sanitation and MHM that are responsive to public needs. In western Kenya specifically, access to basic sanitation remains at less than 30% in urban areas and less than 50% in rural communities. Counties where at least 10% of sanitation facilities are improved have correspondingly low open defecation (OD) rates, while those with few improved facilities have among the highest OD rates. Access to MHM products is also low due to lack of affordability and availability and hampered by distribution challenges, stigma, inadequate education, and a lack of awareness.
Market-based solutions for enabling better sanitation services and MHM
To help local governments in western Kenya improve their sanitation and MHM, USAID launched the Western Kenya Sanitation Project (WKSP), a five-year (2022-2027) program that engages multiple stakeholders in eight western Kenya countries with the goal of creating a financially sustainable, transformative, replicable, and locally owned sanitation and MHM marketplace. Going beyond the traditional "Do-It-Yourself" model promoted through CLTS, USAID WKSP's approach enables customers to easily access the MHM products and WASH services they need, as well as motivating enterprises to improve and expand their products and services they need, as well as motivating enterprises to improve and expand their products and services and invest in marketing and sales.
USAID WKSP leverages a mutually reinforcing “catalyze and transform” methodology to advance MBS together with stakeholders. The project will catalyze the market by motivating promising entrepreneurs to enter the sanitation marketplace while also building the capacity of small-scale service providers to adapt, improve, and expand current operations and practices.
At the same time, the project will transform the market by engaging high-capacity businesses, manufacturers, and other entrepreneurs around new solutions, facilitating a systemic, highly collaborative process, where creative ideas, driven by evidence and learning, bring transformative change. USAID WKSP incentivizes businesses, manufacturers, enterprises, government representatives, researchers, and entrepreneurs to collaborate, conceptualize, test, evaluate, replicate, and scale up ideas for breakthrough solutions that expand sanitation and MHM access.
Facilitating innovation and inclusivity
To respond to various target customer demand and interests, USAID WKSP develops and implements a series of inclusive activities that engage Kenyan manufacturers and designers to innovate sanitation products and systems through research and development (R&D) pilot programs.
The project interacts with different customer segments (especially women), product users, manufacturers, distributors, and county and national government agencies (e.g., Water Services Regulatory Board, Kenya Bureau of Standards) through a series of focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and marketplace events. This approach ensures that the pilot programs are context-appropriate, have cost-effective and efficient raw material inputs and production processes, and allow for informed choice by the customer groups, product users, and regulators. Working alongside local innovators, the project not only tests products that are disruptive and transformative but also those that use local materials and product supply chains.
To scale innovations beyond proof-of-concept, USAID WKSP also helps identify strategic support such as additional sources of funding, distribution requirements, and regulatory preparations, to name a few. USAID WKSP will also explore how impacts of climate change can affect the development of sanitation facilities and MHM disposal options.
USAID WKSP seeks to warrant long-term adoption of sustainability in the provision of sanitation and MHM products and services. In this process, the project will:
- Facilitate county-level policy and national-level regulatory reform and feedback processes to allow an enabling environment for sanitation and MHM market players to thrive and for goods and services to expand in the market, reaching all levels of customers.
- Engage women in all activities (e.g., market systems analysis, customer/user segmentation, governance assessments, and political economy analysis) to identify potential female-specific constraints and cultural challenges, and to amplify opportunities that empower women as market players.
- Incorporate collaboration and learning through an iterative loop, emphasized in the R&D process and shared through local and national platforms, including with the private sector and county governments, to inform innovation and capture stakeholder inputs.
At the end of the project, the eight target counties will have the foundation for a long-lasting sanitation and MHM marketplace where customers can easily find and procure services and products that they need and where enterprises are motivated to improve products and services and to invest in marketing and sales.
Learn more about RTI’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) work.