The Art of Adaptive Program Management

LESSON LEARNED: The project approach should be adapted over time to find the most effective way to reach objectives based on project experience.

Market development for sanitation (Sanitation Marketing) in Cambodia usually takes the form of market facilitation—development partners build capacity of private enterprises to stimulate demand and provide supply to satisfy demand without becoming directly involved in market transactions. However, despite being independent, sustainable businesses in their own right, concrete businesses showed inconsistent capacity and enthusiasm for conducting their own active sales management. 

Project experience shows that pure market facilitation is not necessarily the best model for reaching the public health goal of rapid and widespread latrine uptake.

Given the public health goal of rapidly improving latrine uptake rates, the project adjusted accordingly and explored alternative approaches of market engagement, such as a Direct Sales Model (DSM). DSM experiments in Kandal and Koh Kong showed that a dedicated sales force managed by the project stimulated high levels of demand. As such, the project shifted the focal point of intervention from Latrine Business Owner to sales agents, building up a full-time sales force to reduce turnover, with dedicated management by project staff. As market conditions continuously evolve, project intervention methods should reflect ongoing learnings about market capacity and maturity, and adjust interventions accordingly.