Verifying latrines in Vietnam and Cambodia

The benefits of every household having convenient, safe access to a hygienic latrine are enormous. Communities and neighbourhoods would be cleaner, safer and healthier. The incidence of diseases caused by exposure to faecal matter would be reduced, potentially saving many lives, especially those of children. Older people, people with disabilities and others would enjoy greater dignity, freed from having to find a private spot in the fields or forests or use over-crowded public facilities in urban areas. Women and girls would not endure taunts and assaults when venturing out unaccompanied and everyone would have reduced risk from animals and insects.

Many national governments in low and middle income countries place a high priority in increasing household ownership of latrines. The new Sustainable Development Goal No. 6 calls for universal access to hygienic sanitation and an end to open defecation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been trialling programming approaches to assist countries to reach these ambitious targets. In Cambodia and Vietnam, the Foundation supported international NGO East Meets West, a division of Thrive Networks, to implement CHOBA (Community Hygiene Output-Based Aid). This program was based on growing evidence that, if designed with appropriate targets and incentives, output-based funding can foster rapid adoption of latrines by the poorest 40 per cent of households.

In both countries EMW worked with organisations and local governments to promote the benefits of latrine ownership and overcome obstacles to paying for, ordering and installing a latrine. They provided small rebates to participating poor households and payments to implementing agencies and promoters. All payments were based on results: EMW, partner organisations and eligible poor households only received payments or subsidies after EMW verified installation.

Independent verification of results is essential for any outputs based funding strategy. The donor, implementers and the general community need to be confident that false claims will be detected and rejected.

Social Dimensions was contracted to conduct the independent verification of CHOBA in 2015. Ann Larson and Jessie Connell designed and oversaw the verification. Teams from Indochina Research Ltd in Vietnam and Cambodia collected the household data from samples drawn from EMW’s own monitoring system.

Click on the video to learn about the process and results in Vietnam. It was originally prepared for an end-of-project conference held in Hanoi in late 2015.


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