Improving sanitation in rural India

Sometimes a well-intended action does not lead to the desired outcome.  Consider the Indian government’s efforts to provide toilets to rural villages.  The government built toilets, but people did not use them.  This is ultimately failure to conduct proper research before implementing a plan. 

The government failed to engage the local people and failed to understand entrenched cultural beliefs surrounding toilets.  Thus, their plan did not align with the motivations of the stakeholders involved. 

Armed with a better understanding of the stakeholders, the government employed the endowment effecting by giving the people ownership of the project.  The endowment effect states that people tend to value things more simply because they own them.  They invited the villagers to be part of the process by choosing the location, designing, and even building the facilities themselves.  This increases the level of emotional engagement and encourages people to take pride in their communities.