Evaluating Latrine Construction Subsidy Effects

Client: UNICEF
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dates of service:
March – August 2017
IDinsight services: Embedded learning partnership with impact evaluation, process evaluation, and nimble data analysis
IDinsight contacts: Lilian Lehmann

The Problem

In 2017 the UNICEF Philippines WASH team supported local governments and implementing partners in the Phased Approach to Total Sanitation to get communities to “Open Defecation Free” status[1]. As part of this phased approach, the municipality of Milagros in Masbate province introduced a subsidy program to expand household access to hardware for latrine construction[2].

[1] Villages are increasingly becoming Open Defecation Free (ODF) but access to sustainable improved sanitation continues to be a challenge.

[2] Under this voucher system, ODF villages receive a 2000 PHP (~$43 USD) voucher for hardware.

Two years into the implementation of the subsidy, the municipality was considering making changes to the design and implementation of the subsidy program to improve its effectiveness in supporting recipients to build and use sanitary toilets. UNICEF was also interested in knowing how well this subsidy program was working, to guide future support provided to the Milagros municipality. UNICEF was also interested in knowing whether this approach should be advocated in other municipalities.

Evidence Needs

IDinsight Service

IDinsight conducted a diagnostic study to inform possible improvements to the design and implementation of the subsidy. In April-May 2017, 1,343 households in 42 ZOD-certified sitios were surveyed, and 22 key informant interviews were conducted with municipal LGU staff, barangay[1] staff and other stakeholders involved in program design and implementation

[1] Barangays are an administrative unit corresponding to villages.


The findings showed that 79.3% [74.8%, 83.8%] of recipient households were able to use the materials to build or improve a toilet, and 98.7% [97.2%, 100%] of these recipients had a sanitary toilet. However, there were significant challenges with targeting the intended households for the subsidy, and 20.7% [16.2%, 25.2%] of recipients did not use materials for toilet construction. Moreover, open defecation persisted among households with no toilet access and when away from home.


Based on the evaluation findings, the municipal government of Milagros has revised the household eligibility criteria and selection process for the subsidy and the verification process for zero-open defecation. Further, together with UNICEF, the municipality is considering revisions to the materials distributed, and possible additional construction support provided to households.