Building markets in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector
Increasing health outcomes and building resilient communities
Latrines. Water filters. Handwashing options. All products that improve people’s lives because clean water is key to improving health. For more than two decades, iDE has shown that selling people products that improves water quality results in better health outcomes, adds to their dignity, and increases their ability to earn an income. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of handwashing when it comes to reducing the spread of disease.
Since we began building markets for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) products, more than five million individuals in six countries have gained access to improved sanitation, and learned how to protect their health and their families. Hydrologic, iDE's social enterprise in Cambodia, has sold more than 500,000 water filters, providing access to clean water for more than 2.5 million people. And our pioneering work in fecal sludge management in Ghana and Cambodia is showing people how to safely treat waste.
We use the market to deliver solutions that people need and are able to afford. To do so, we try to understand what drives the existing market. Then we look for opportunities to make it more robust. We use human-centered design to inform our implementation approach, product designs, and business models. For example, we discovered customers wanted more than just a simple latrine in Bangladesh. Sales lagged expectations (based on our sanitation sales in Cambodia and Nepal) until we added the option to add decorative tiles to the area around the toilet pan. Even though it added additional costs to the purchase price, it proved to be an element that Bangladesh customers wanted and were willing to pay the extra cost to have.
Access to high-quality and affordable WASH products and services is key for achieving iDE’s global objective of increasing incomes and improving livelihoods for the rural poor. For example, between 2011 to 2019, iDE facilitated the sale of 340,000 latrines in Cambodia, contributing to an increase in sanitation coverage in programme provinces from 29 percent in 2012 to 73 percent in 2019. We are now working to achieve 85 percent rural sanitation coverage in target areas by 2023, with 1,600 villages claiming open defecation free status.
Technical Knowledge Platform
Want to dive into the details? Our microsite has information about lessons learned in developing WASH markets in Ghana and Cambodia.
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