Making it Easy
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Making it Easy

In Cambodia, almost 11,000 people die of diarrhea every year. An enormous number of these deaths are due to the lack of latrines in rural regions. International Development Enterprises has begun a program to solve this problem by making latrines both affordable and desirable.

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Directed by Max Shapira.

Learn more about IDE Cambodia.

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.


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Segment 1

In Cambodia, almost 11,000 people die of diarrhea every year; most of those deaths are children.
Less than 20 percent of rural Cambodians have a latrine.
Despite numerous NGO and government projects, latrine take-up has been minimal.
Until now.
In 2005, IDE began a sanitation program in the Cambodian provinces of Svay Rieng and Kandal. The aim was to design a suite of latrines and an unsubsidized supply chain that would allow local people, however poor, access to toilets. Key to the initial research was talking to villagers to find out why they were unable or unwilling to purchase latrines.
We’ve always just used the bushes. No one told us about sanitation.
There are so many places to go, I don’t need a latrine
I don’t have access to a latrine, so I just use the bushes
Once the program had established the most common reasons, the next step was to find ways of changing attitudes and behavior.
OU SAVOEUN [Provincial Field Supervisor, Svay Rieng, IDE Cambodia]
With the villagers, we start by asking them to drop sand on the map where they shit. This shows them very powerfully where they are all defecating. Then we talk about how bad sanitation encourages the spread of disease through hands, insects, water, and food.
Changing behavior and creating demand is vital but pointless if people can’t afford the latrines. So IDE set out to design a latrine that was effective, inexpensive, and attractive to users and retailers: the Easy Latrine.
CORDELL JACKS [WATSAN Program Manager, IDE Cambodia]
In the past, if a Cambodian family wanted a latrine, it was a really difficult and complex process. Now, with the sanitation marketing program we have, it’s become a very easy process. In the same day, a household can make the decision, purchase a latrine, they can then contact a latrine producer in their local area, the latrine producer will drop off all of the supplies to their home, and they can install the latrine themselves. One day, one decision. Quick and easy
Ninety-five percent of non-owners said the main reason they didn’t have a latrine was expense. To create an affordable but upgradable system, there needed to be a transformation in the role of the concrete suppliers.
DUONG SETHA [Concrete Producer, Svay Rieng]
It’s easy to sell because it doesn’t fill up quickly, simple to build, and very cheap. When I used to produce standard latrines, I hardly sold any. Now, it’s different. The Easy Latrine is so much cheaper, and even a widow can build it by herself.
The Chey family recently bought and built their own latrine.
MEAS SAVY [Chambock Tleng, Svay Rieng]
Before we had a latrine, my family used to get ill all the time. Since we’ve had one, they’re much healthier.
YUOS CHEY [Chambock Tleng, Svay Rieng]
We couldn’t afford a toilet, so we just used to go in the fields.
We were so happy when we got a latrine. It means good sanitation and a healthier family.
Our relatives are happier when they visit us because we have good sanitation. Owning a latrine is like having our own doctor.
Since the program began, the two Svay Rieng districts that have featured have seen an unprecedented 5 percent increase in latrine coverage. IDE are currently looking to take the project nationwide, creating an opportunity for the whole of Cambodia to benefit from the Easy Latrine.