June 19

Small Business and WASH in the Age of Coronavirus

By Monte Achenbach

Most emergency situations, such as natural disasters, affect WASH markets both negatively and positively. They can disrupt the market supply of WASH products and services, and humanitarian responses that include free distribution of WASH products can unintendedly create long-term damage to markets by reducing customers’ willingness to pay for such products. But emergencies can also be a blessing in disguise as key messages on good hygiene and sanitation practices reach a larger proportion of the population and are more likely to be adopted as people seek to reduce their vulnerability. This can, in turn, increase demand for WASH products and services, benefiting well-prepared businesses that are able to deliver to their household customers as well as to emergency response programmes.

For Transform WASH, the team has observed a range of negative impacts on their activities caused by the coronavirus pandemic:

  • The supply of sanitation products has been negatively affected as local distributors are not able to travel freely and pick up products from warehouses.
  • Community demand for sanitation products to build new or upgrade their facilities has decreased, probably because households are prioritising purchases of food and other essential commodities.
  • The construction of model latrines and water supply systems at healthcare facilities had to be suspended due to travel restrictions.
  • Group activities, such as government and business partner capacity building and social behaviour change training for health extension workers, have been postponed as current restrictions do not allow meetings with more than four participants.

Photo courtesy of Kate Fogelberg.

Source: IRC (link opens in a new window)

Coronavirus, Education, Health Care, WASH