Toilet Business Owners and the race to provide sanitation

By Samuel Langat, SATO Leader Africa

A recent study by Toilet Pride, a Nigerian-based NGO with the goal of spreading awareness of the importance of better sanitation and hygiene throughout the country and a valued partner of SATO, recently found that Toilet Business Owners (TBOs) remain “very motivated” to expand their businesses.[1]

As vendors who are also involved with the distribution of toilet products along the supply chain, from initial sales to transportation and installation, this bodes well for the future, as it showcases the valuable roles of TBOs in Nigeria’s ambitious transformation in hygiene development and the growth of its sanitation economy.

With one of the country’s Sustainable Development Goals being to achieve 100% access to water services by 2030, Nigeria is currently on a mission to provide safer, cleaner, and more reliable sanitation infrastructure to everyone, across all strata of society. As important ambassadors for better sanitation solutions, advocates of hygiene development in rural communities and SATO customers, TBOs will be key facilitators to the achievement of this ambition. However, as Toiletpride’s research shows, they face challenges which need to be overcome through both collaboration and motivation.

The Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping survey (aka ‘WASHNORM’) recently found that 90% of the country still lacked reliable access to basic water supplies – an absolute necessity for better hygiene and sanitation in developing communities.[2] Therefore, if Nigeria is to reach its goal, over the next seven years more than 179 million Nigerians will need to be accounted for, and TBOs will play a crucial role in meeting this challenge head on.[3]

In order to meet the high costs of infrastructural transportation, installation, and maintenance, demand for funding among toilet vendors is currently very high. However, only one third of TBOs are registered with the government’s Cooperative Affairs Commission, meaning the majority cannot qualify for official funding. As a result, toilet vendors and businesses are too reliant on funding from informal channels and the support of NGOs.[4]

With isolated rural communities being some of those most in need of developmental and infrastructural improvement, if Nigeria is to achieve its target, NGOs, governmental bodies, as well as private companies, such as SATO, collectively have important roles to play in the levelling up of Nigeria’s access to better hygiene and sanitation services.

While funding is an issue, Toiletpride’s investigation found that TBOs are embracing creative and striking traditional marketing strategies to promote sales. Branded T-shirts and caps, as well as more traditional promotional materials such as posters and pamphlets, are both valued and effective methods of spreading awareness of readily available hygiene and sanitation solutions among rural communities.[5] TBOs ranked physical promotional materials, as well as linking with sales agents, as two of the most helpful contributors to their business, insisting sales had increased considerably following Toilet Pride’s support in these as well as other areas.

Despite the challenges, Toilet Pride’s survey found that with more funding there was opportunity for greater expansion of sanitation products and infrastructure, such as those supplied by SATO, into rural communities.[6]


[1] Toilet Pride, Toilet Business Owner (TBO) Bi-Annual Survey – June 2022

[2] Toilet Pride, Toilet Business Owner (TBO) Bi-Annual Survey – June 2022

[3] 2021 WASHNORM, 4.1, p.166

[4] 2021 WASHNORM, 4.1, p.167

[5] Toilet Pride, Toilet Business Owner (TBO) Bi-Annual Survey – June 2022

[6] Toilet Pride, Toilet Business Owner (TBO) Bi-Annual Survey – June 2022

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