Private and social enterprise roles in water, sanitation and hygiene for the poor: a systematic review

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, 2014, 4 (3), pp. 331 - 342
Issue Date:
2014-09
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Micro, small and medium private and social enterprises are emerging as important players in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. This paper provides a systematic review of literature on this topic. It assesses the current evidence base in three areas: factors affecting success of enterprise engagement; outcomes for the poor as a result of enterprise engagement; and lastly, how civil society organisations are engaging to support enterprise development. The review revealed significant variation in the level of rigour of available evidence on this topic, and reflected limited availability of highly rigorous studies. Across the literature, similar success factors were reported across the water and sanitation sub-sectors. These included constraints to business viability due to limitations in demand, lack of business and technical skills and financial challenges (e.g., access to credit). Policy, governance and institutional frameworks could either support or constrain businesses depending on the context. While some evidence was reported on the positive outcomes for the poor resulting from enterprise engagement, in general, businesses preferred servicing non-poor customers. Lastly, evidence on civil society organisation engagement was limited, and where reported, consisted dominantly of capacity building support to enterprises rather than a wider variety of roles which might be envisaged.
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