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Markets for WASH

How to defeat diarrheal disease

When we told people that we planned to sell latrines, water filters, and handwashing devices to poor customers rather than just give them away, they didn’t believe it would work.

But we’ve proven that it does work, and that it works better than charity, because when people invest their own money, they’re more likely to embrace the change necessary to improve their lives.

In iDE’s flagship sanitation marketing program in Cambodia, the program cost per household decreased tenfold from its height of $326 per unit to $35 per unit.

The proof is in the progress

Since we began promoting markets for WASH, over 3.9 million rural households now have access to clean drinking water, improved toilets, and more knowledge about how to improve the health of their families.

A sanitation success story

Ho Thi Mai and her two children used to walk five minutes from their house—rain or shine—and dig a hole to relieve themselves. In Vietnam, open defecation has been a common practice in rural areas, but this is now changing due to increasing awareness of the public health dangers and increasing access to toilets. For $50, Ho Thi Mai was able to invest in a toilet. She said, “It is a lot of money, but it’s worth it.”

(Photo by Morgan Kelly Cowles/iDE)

Every family deserves a toilet

A toilet isn’t a luxury in today’s world; it’s a basic necessity and a human right. At iDE, we’re making this the last generation to remember what it’s like to live without an adequate toilet.

Our approach is called ‘Building Markets for Sanitation.’ Through our human-centered design methodology, we connect to customers who let us know exactly what they need in order to invest in a toilet for their families. We then help local entrepreneurs re-tool to build and deliver these solutions. In seven countries—Cambodia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Ghana—we’re seeing a common trend: sales increase as iDE's costs per toilet decline over time.

Handwashing is considered one of the most effective ways to reduce diarrheal diseases. That’s why we’re now developing integrated handwashing options in our new latrine shelters and looking for additional appropriate and affordable solutions that help encourage this behavior.

Clean water is a fundamental human right

Access to clean water is necessary for a life of dignity and the realization of other basic human rights. But a third of the world suffers without it. We’re taking a unique approach to solve this crisis.

iDE established Hydrologic, a social enterprise that manufactures, distributes, and sells water filters in Cambodia. Hydrologic creates value for its customers—and for Cambodia as a whole—through improved public health, environmental benefits, stimulation of rural economic activity, and a commitment to ethical business practice.

Flexible, tailored partnerships

We invite foundations, philanthropists, donors, and social innovators to join us on a journey to transform 20 million lives. Whether you’re a foundation, a corporation, or an individual donor who wants to invest, not just give, we can create a flexible partnership tailored to you.

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