Ensuring Dignity And Health For
Women And Girls By Improving Sanitation In Rural Vietnam

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Camilla Hagen Sørli

Camilla is an active owner and project executive at Canica, one of the largest privately owned investment companies in Norway, with a focus on the retail, fast moving consumer goods, real estate and manufacturing industries. She also manages the Canica Foundation, which holds a strong focus on enhancing the impact of individuals, institutions, and organizations working to improve the lives of people worldwide.

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The Issue

Lack of access to a clean and safe toilet puts women and girls at risk of violence and disease.

Most rural women and girls in Vietnam do not have access to hygienic toilets. Instead, they defecate outside, which poses serious risks to their health, safety, and dignity. Unhygienic toilets are a leading cause of diarrheal disease, a major cause of death for children under five. In addition to health and safety challenges, unsafe sanitation reduces women and girls’ opportunities to complete their education, earn a living, and provide for their families.

Pilot And Learn

This project will demonstrate the feasibility of creating a sustainable commercial market for quality, hygienic toilets in resource-poor and remote areas.

PSI is partnering with a Vietnamese manufacturer to expand the availability and demand for quality toilets that meet standards for hygiene as well as women’s dignity and safety. PSI is enlisting more than 200 local masons and mason assistants, including women, to build quality toilets that have less smell, are more durable and lightweight, and need to be emptied less frequently. At the same time, a communications campaign will promote the benefits of improved sanitation in ways that resonate with both rural women and men. In collaboration with the Vietnamese government and local companies, PSI is working to ensure families that want a toilet can afford to buy and install one.

Leverage And Scale

Building a successful business model for toilets will improve health, empower women entrepreneurs, and inform strategies to improve sanitation access for rural communities in Vietnam and around the world.

There is an urgent need for new approaches to address market failures that limit the availability of high-quality toilets, especially for marginalized women and girls living in remote areas. This pilot will contribute to a growing evidence base about how to use market systems to expand access to sanitation. Evidence and models will inform governments, multilateral donors, companies and other organizations so they can scale-up proven practices.

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