Market Based Programming for WASH

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) emergency responses affect markets, intentionally or not. WASH hygiene supplies (such as soap) and services (such as latrine desludging) are often bought and sold in a market before, during and after a crisis. Aid responses significantly affect that market – both by buying from it and by providing alternative (often free) supplies. Aid that is not market-aware may cost more, put suppliers out of business, raise prices and undermine recovery.

Instead, aid agencies can work with functioning markets to supply quality goods quickly and cheaply, respond to local preferences, and give people the dignity of purchasing power and choice. They can also contribute to post-disaster recovery through repairing and developing local markets.

Key benefits of market based programming are:

After the initial days in an acute emergency, market assessments should be the default step before establishing whether local procurement or cash/vouchers are appropriate

Market-Based Programming in WASH: Technical Guidance for Humanitarian Practitioners

Oxfam, on behalf of the Global WASH Cluster, have prepared a complete guide to MBP.

View the Complete Guide

Below is a 3 minute introduction and overview to market based programming of WASH.

What is WASH market-based programming?

Market-based programming or market-based interventions are projects that work through or support local markets. The terms cover all types of engagement with market systems, from actions that deliver immediate relief to those that proactively strengthen and activate local market systems or market hubs.

WASH Market Based Programming (MBP) uses the market to deliver essential WASH goods and services, or restores and develops the market system. Market analysis assesses the market system’s capacity to supply essential WASH commodities and the level of demand. Understanding WASH demand is critical, as it is driven by complex factors such as people’s knowledge of the health risks. Demand may therefore need stimulating through, for example, hygiene promotion.

Market systems are composed of a web of producers, distributors, traders, service providers and consumers operating within an institutional and regulatory environment. Major disasters may destroy a market, but in smaller or protracted crises, markets are often the principal means by which people obtain critical commodities. If humanitarian agencies do not consider the market, interventions can accidentally do harm – undermining demand and putting traders out of business.

Briefing Note 1: Working with WASH market systems in emergencies

Approaches to WASH market-based programming

MBP approaches will vary according the phase of an emergency, the capacity of the market system and the time and resources available. Broadly, MBP approaches include those that use an existing market, those that restore or support the market and those that aim to strengthen or develop it:

  1. Awareness of markets: Programmes that are market-aware are cognizant of the effects that practices in the delivery of humanitarian assistance have on markets. Market-aware programmes take steps to minimise or mitigate negative impacts on local markets.
    Example: conducting a market assessment of the water trucking market prior to contracting water supply services with vendors.

  2. Use of markets: If the market is functioning adequately, it can be used to provide relief and basic services through, for example, purchasing goods in the local market for aid distributions instead of importing, and supporting demand through e-vouchers or cash.
    Example: In-kind distribution of locally procured hygiene goods and cash & voucher assistance for hygiene items are both examples of using markets.

  3. Support markets: Rehabilitation or strengthening of weak or damaged market systems to enable market actors to recover (for example through grants to repair equipment).
    Example: Grants to traders of hygiene items or grants to water truckers so they can restart businesses after a crisis.

  4. Strengthening market systems: Also referred to as market system changes, these are longer term interventions aimed at enabling sustainable changes in market access and demand for goods and services, supporting the development of viability and resilience within existing and new market systems.
    Example: Assisting WASH enterprises to produce chlorine products and create business plans for the sale of chlorine for household water treatment (HHWT).

Briefing Note 2: Types of Market-Based Programming

How to do WASH market-based programming

WASH MBP uses a project cycle approach, starting with assessment. A market assessment is one of the main components specific to market-based programming. Response analysis then links assessment with the design of a market-based intervention. Monitoring is a key step in MBP, and preparedness enables programs to lead a market-based response to crises.

Briefing Note 3: Using Market Mapping and Analysis

Organisational learning

The organizational commitment and resourcing required for in-depth MBP is significant. Learning generated by Oxfam’s WASH MBP programme demonstrated that:

  1. Before investing in a market analysis, the senior managers of an organization must understand the level of organizational investment required and clearly commit to implementation;
  2. MBP programming is likely to require integration with other humanitarian or development programmes and is more sustainable if it links with ongoing projects;
  3. MBP funding often straddles relief and development and benefits from longer funding cycles;
  4. Market systems, and therefore MBP, extend across NGO geographical and sector boundaries. Cluster coordination is therefore essential to promote coherence.

Briefing Note 4: Organisational Requirements and Capacity Building

Monitoring and evaluation

Oxfam commissioned the development of a generic WASH MBP monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework and associated ICT tools which can be adapted to different contexts. As well as using standard M&E methods, MBP M&E measures whether MBP performance is at least as effective as traditional humanitarian delivery and assesses its ability to restore and strengthen markets and livelihoods. It also addresses concerns such as:

Briefing Note 5: Monitoring and Evaluation of WASH Market Programming

M&E Framework for WASH Markets Programming

Updated guidance on monitoring MBP in WASH programs is included in Chapter 5 of the Market-Based Programming in WASH Technical Guidance.