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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

No legitimacy: A study of private sector sanitation development in the Global South

Fischer, Klara; Kokko, Suvi; Mcconville, Jennifer


What is needed for the private sector to successfully establish itself as a key player in delivering sustainable sanitation in the Global South? The present paper aims to offer some answers to this through the case of Peepoople AB, a company delivering a single-use biodegradable toilet bag in informal settlements. The company aimed to but failed in combining sustainable development of sanitation and financial gain for investors. We suggest that explanations for the failure can be found in the interaction between the company and the development– and aid organisations already involved in sanitation development. Through Strategic Niche Management, we look at whether the company managed to create relevant social networks, expectation dynamics and learning processes. The company gained legitimacy with end users, but failed to gain legitimacy in the development sector as it did not prioritise the kind of learning and competence considered relevant in the sector.


sanitation; development; poverty; niche innovation; Kenya; epistemic community

Published in

Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
2021, volume: 38, pages: 68-78

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
SDG4 Quality education
SDG17 Partnerships for the goals

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