Selling Sanitation to New Users
If the Water Decade proved one thing, it was that, to bring about the sanitaryrevolution, the engineers would have to concede pride of place to the agentsof behaviour change. The technicians had led the way in identifying suitable technologies for non-sewerable parts of the world, compiled manuals for their construction and worked with technical institutions around the world to secure their professional recognition within the civil engineering establishment. But hardware was only one part of the equation. As one commentator put it, even the best manuals cannot teach an engineer to be sensitive to the needs of an impoverished community.1 Just like the proverbial horse that is taken to water but cannot be made to drink, people in the urban and rural developing world could be presented with immaculately engineered toilet facilities, but not be made to use them. Unless they lived in circumstances which predisposed them towards toilets, why would they? To be fair, engineers are not expected to be good at behavioural change: what they are trained to do is ‘fix’. More sensitivity to lavatorial demand (or its creation) and to behavioural change was the new leitmotif. ‘Software’ and motivation – how to sell the toilet habit convincingly and durably to new users – became the principal preoccupation of toilet missionaries.