A Visit to Dian Desa in Maumere

In August, I went to Flores. Not only was it one of the most beautiful place I have been to, but it is also one of the least developed islands in Indonesia.

Dian Desa works to build awareness about sanitation and asked me to help them market their new pre-fab toilet product to the 500 villages they work with in Sikka province.

By the way, apart from drinking all the homemade vodka you could ask for, Sikkanese people have a long and rich history.

Unfortunately, none of the culture or history is documented despite all the anthropologists that exist. My friend Haeke is currently writing a book with a Sikkanese expert in Maumere before it all disappears. If anybody is interested in helping her do this, let me know.

Here are some pictures of the JDD toilet that is mentioned in the rest of this blog.

Recommendations for JDD Marketing

After reading the affordability and willingness to pay report, I identified four major problems regarding sanitation in Sikka (26):

  1. Innovative Financing Scheme is needed.
  2. Technical solution to address such problem is needed.
  3. Innovative sanitation service provider (which take into account the “practicability aspect”) is needed Innovative sanitation service provider (which take into account the “practicability aspect”) is needed.
  4. Intervention related to awareness and behavior change is needed.

I did not include ‘awareness-behavior change problem’ in my analysis because the report mentioned that at present it is done through STBM (26). I also could not offer any technical solutions for problems relating to the toilet-making private sector (‘technical solution needed’) because I do not have enough information about the private sector providers there. I think that Dian Desa has solved the ‘innovative sanitation service provider needed’ problem because Dian Desa developed the JDD toilet, a pre-fab toilet that meets the needs of the ‘practicability aspect’ mentioned in the report.

Given these constraints, I focused my recommendations on the ‘innovative finance scheme’ problem and offer the following recommendations (26).

All of the seven recommendations that I offer should meet the three features of good sanitation marketing. These recommendations respond to opportunity, motivation and ability to purchase the JDD based on the information that I have[1]:

R1) Identify the people who want to buy the JDD toilet. Then, market it using salient messaging.

There seems to be demand for the JDD. The study shows that 57.9% of respondents were willing to pay for a ready-made toilet like the JDD toilet (29) and that the average ability to pay is about 84,000 Rupiahs per month. There is also a gradation of the ability to pay (30).

Dian Desa should use door-to-door, in-person conversations with people they already do awareness trainings for. This is the most effective way to work with the population, both rural and urban. This can be done in the village meetings or home visits or existing groups that have a history of receiving other Dian Desa services. A map of where the families who are interested should be created for follow-up and tracking purposes. All tracking should be done in a shared document that all staff can access in case the responsible staff member become absent.

Note: In a separate document, I offer a focus group discussion tool that you can use to identify and test the main messages for including in marketing products such as a conversation guide.

Based on the reasons for not owning a toilet in the report, there are already several basic messages that should work because they respond to people’s excuses for not owning a toilet.

Affordability messages:

“We offer an affordable installation plan.”
“It costs only X per month.”
Reason: Economic reason and to be simple. No money to make private family toilet.
Space messages:
“You don’t need land for the JDD toilet.”
“The JDD toilet takes up less space than a camplung”

“If you don’t have land, you can share a toilet with a neighbor who does not have a toilet, and share the costs too.”

Reason: No space to make private toilet. For example the land is very limited and no possible space. Such reality is commonly found in densely populated urban area.

Convenience/tidakribet/enak messages:

“JDD is convenient”

“JDD enak dan nyaman

“JDD technicians build the toilet for you.”

“It only takes six hours to put together” OR “There are only x number of steps and they are….”

“No need to know how to build a toilet.”

“No need to dig a pit.”

“No need to build a slab.”

“The JDD is already made.”

“No need to buy materials from the city.”

Reason: in Indonesian term, usually it is called as “ribet” which more or less means “too complicated for me”. For example someone needs to save money. After that he needs to procure needed materials from the city which is very far from his village. Then bring respective materials to village. The next headache is to get skill labor in respective village. On other hand he is not idle and practically every day has to work to survive. The bottom line of this reason is “no appropriate service provider”

Reason: Technical reason such as do not know how to make correct toilet. On top of that the local available skill he also does not know about labor in respective villages.

Habit messages:

-no suggestions, STBM awareness campaign is sufficient

-demonstration effect from neighbors and peers may eventually change attitude

Reason: Habitual reason such as feel very inconvenience to defecate in toilet and prefer in open space.

Example of typical response: “Yeah, I am embarrassed if people pass by, but I think everybody is used to it, everybody also does that …”

“If everyone is doing it, then why can’t I? Conversely, if no one is doing it, can I?”

Legal messages:

-no suggestions

Reason: Legal status reason – for example the house where they stay is not owned by them (rent or borrow from relatives). In other words they perceive as temporary settlement only.

Water shortage/natural condition message:

“The JDD toilet comes with a water delivery service”

“The JDD toilet can be built on your neighbor’s house.”

Reason: Reason related to natural condition. For example water is very scarce or their house is located above water, etc. So they think that it is impossible to make any toilet in such condition.

Awareness messages:

-no suggestions, STBM awareness campaign is sufficient

-demonstration by neighbors and other peers may eventually change perspective

Reason: Existing practice is enough or good for them. In other words they feel/perceive that the way they defecate is OK and no need to make any toilet. This reason has close correlation with their level of awareness.

Examples of typical responses. Be prepared to respond to these:

“We have been defecating in open places over the decades. We acquired this habit from our antecedents. It has been transforming from generation to generation. We haven’t yet given up this habit. I think it will take more time to be habituated with the latrine use.”

“I don’t think it is a mistake [to defecate in the open] as I often see that my waste is beneficial to feed the fish in the river. They eat it directly while it is there.”

“If the water goes to the paddy field, [my waste] can act as fertilizer; it will help the paddy to grow, using organic fertilizer.”

Other Messages:

There may be other messages although they will need to be tested with a focus group first. Some other suggestions are the following, and come from other sanitation programs from around the world:


“Avoid snakes, toilets are safer”

“Buy a toilet; it’s safer for you and your children.”

“Children can use the toilet”


“JDD is comfortable”

“Toilet nyaman”

“No more flies”

“A toilet that is clean and does not smell”

Privacy (for women in particular)

“Buy privacy”


“The JDD toilet will make you an important person to your village.”

“Toilet keren”

Pride and self-esteem

“Don’t be a person who defecates outside.”

“Don’t be ashamed anymore.”


In follow-up conversations with households who express interest, it will be important to have them answer the following questions to ensure they are ready to purchase this agreement. The marketing field person can help to find answers for these questions if the household asks:

What type of latrine should be built?

What features does the JDD have that I need?

How much will be spent and how will money be saved up?

Where will it be installed?

Who will be able to access and use it, that is, will it be shared with neighbors?

Who will choose the construction materials? Where will they be bought and who will do the actual purchase?

Who will install the latrine?

R2) Do not offer a loan option. According to my conversations with Joko and Shantoy, the villagers are backed up on credit from four years of successive droughts. It is important to segment the market. I think there are two markets: Strata A and Strata B, C, D.

After segmenting the market into these two groups (Strata A and Strata B and above), Dian Desa could offer the following financing three schemes:

R3) Offer an 85,000 Rupiah per month installment option – one JDD per household. This option targets Strata B, C and D who are willing to pay for a toilet and do not already have toilets.

In general, Dian Desa needs to create a cheaper installment plan because 75% of those without a toilet were living under the poverty line (31). The research showed that 42.05% were willing to pay up to Rp 50,000 per month even if they were poor and 37.50% were willing to pay Rp 50,000-100,000 per month, while only 14.20% were able to pay Rp 100,000-150,000 per month. The installment price should be equal to the average all no-toilet consumers are willing to pay, Rp 85,000, in order to draw in the Strata B and above market.

Ability to Pay

Economic Strata

Up to Rp 50,000 per month

From Rp 50,000 – Rp 100,000 per month

From Rp 100,000 – Rp 150,000 per month

More than Rp 150,000 per month

Grand Total

Strata A – under Poverty Line






Strata B–Fragile 1






Strata C–Fragile 2






Strata D – Not under Poverty Line






Grand Total






R3) Offer a collective installation and billing option (84,000 Rupiah per month[2] divided by three or four neighbors)–one JDD for three or four households. This option targets Strata A, who comprise mostly of the no-toilet market which can pay no more than Rp 50,000 per month. This option should be marketed to neighboring houses living below the poverty line (Strata A) that do not have toilets.

Because Strata A makes up over 70% of the market, it will be important to offer collective installation and collective building. The benefit of the collective billing option is that it helps to lower costs to a point where the willing Strata A customers are able to pay for it, and it effectively provides Dian Desa with group insurance coverage regarding the bill payment. In the collective billing option, individual households provide this insurance by assuming liability for the full extent of the services consumed. Because they are all neighbors, they have the most to lose from failure to pay due to moral authority and ability to impose sanctions on each other. This option also provides social insurance to the members, because if one household has cash flow problems in a given month, the other members can help cover shortfall.

R4) Offer a bulk toilet installation and billing option (840,000 Rupiah per month) serving up to forty or fifty households – 10 JDDs per village. This option targets Strata A customers who cannot find neighbors to go into the three to four family collective installation and billing option with. This option should be marketed to residents without toilets during the regular village meeting. Residents pay per use to use the toilet at something like 1000 Rupiah. Revenues that exceed the installment could be kept in an emergency fund that can be used for those months when revenues are not enough to reach monthly installment cost.

R5) In areas where water is scarce, offer a water delivery service that is priced within the price thresholds that residents already pay for water. While this may not be beyond the scope of Dian Desa’s work, it will surely increase the likelihood that they will expect to use the JDD toilets as thee require water to function.  Sikka residents already spend 2.5%-10% on water (30). A new water delivery service will also increase legitimacy of Dian Desa as a service provider in these villages. By heightening the economic and social benefit of Dian Desa in the community, Dian Desa will be able to enlist the support of villagers to market, monitor toilets’ maintenance, protect the toilet infrastructure, and ensure timely billing. More value is at stake if they cannot resolve their problems together if Dian Desa is also the provider of other basic services such as water provision.

R6) Offer sanitation collection service. I don’t remember hearing about a collection service but this is the last step to most sanitation marketing programs, and will ensure that people continue to use the toilets because they are properly maintained.

Note: If Dian Desa chooses to offer water delivery, waste collection or both services—it will be important that these services are to be included in the price of the monthly installment when building in these costs to the total price.  This fee should not be advertised as an extra fee, but should be marketed as one of the services included in the purchase.

R7) Do not market the program in October or December. This is a time when people are saving up for communion and Christmas celebrations. They will not prioritize spending on home improvement and this may shape their attitudes towards marketing efforts. If there is information about other big ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, birthday parties, etc., it will be wise to avoid marketing during such times. If the marketer can find out when there is extra income, such as directly after a successful harvest or when villages receive beras miskin, this would be an optimum time to market the program.

[1] Opportunity: Does the individual have the chance to perform the behavior?

Ability: Is the individual capable of performing it?

Motivation: Does the individual want to perform it?

[2] Average price willing to pay was Rp 83,700 (30).

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