Aug. 10, 2018

Batten's Lipscomb Helps Break Up Senegal's "Toilet Cartel"

Editor’s note: This complete National Public Radio story can be read and heard here; this excerpt is posted with permission. (A transcript of the radio report is here.) The podcast version of a longer report (24 minutes) can be heard and downloaded here.


In Dakar, Senegal, people can’t just flush their poop away; most people rely on septic tanks that must be emptied.

Molly Lipscomb is an Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Batten. This project was done in collaboration with a team of other researchers from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and with Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit organization focused on using data to solve problems related to poverty.

A giant vacuum truck—called a “toilet sucker”—can come to your house, remove the waste and take the sewage to a treatment center.

Molly Lipscomb knew they had to find a way to get the truckers to start trying to beat each other on price. The truckers all have cellphones, so Lipscomb wondered whether she could set up a system where people could order one of the trucks by text message.

Innovations for Poverty Action’s report

In This Article

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics
Phone Number
Office Location/Room Number
Garrett 103