The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) loses $208m each year due to poor sanitation. The State as a duty bearer has limited capacity to act and improve the sanitation sector. In 2013–16 Oxfam developed a pilot sanitation marketing project for Gemena, a middle-size town in Sud-Ubangi province. Sanitation marketing uses a mix of marketing approaches to increase the demand for and supply of quality sanitation facilities (e.g. latrines). Eighteen months after the project in Gemena ended, Oxfam revisited. It learned that, while it is possible to implement a sanitation marketing programme in a fragile context, the two-and-a-half years of implementation in this case was not a long enough period for the market to sufficiently establish itself to become self-sustaining.