Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

IDE's Global WASH Initiative

iDE is dedicated to preventing water-related disease and realizing the human right to clean water and sanitation.

Water-related disease stands in the way of a free and dignified life for billions of people. And it claims lives, by the millions.

We’re proving that change, on a large scale, is possible. Our approach is unconventional. We overturn traditional development practices by focusing on the root causes, not the symptoms. We know we’re on to something good, because our work is yielding results that are unprecedented globally.

But this is no time to rest. There’s a lot more to be done.

We work in seven countries across Africa and Asia.

Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Vietnam, Zambia

Three Areas of Programming.

Clean water, sanitation, handwashing

Our Core Capabilities

  • Diagnosing Markets
  • Research & Development
  • Human-centered Design
  • Commercializing Technology
  • Catalyzing Markets
  • Social Marketing Campaigns
  • Human-centered Sales
  • Monitoring & Evaluation

Let's solve it in our lifetime. WASH@ideorg.org

Our process

We start with people.

It’s all about keeping people at the center of the solution. That’s why we use human-centered design.* It’s an approach that helps us set aside assumptions about what we think is good for people, and ask what they want and need.

This same approach is used by large U.S. corporations to produce valuable insights about their customers. For iDE, it’s an important tool for designing products and business models that change lives.

We design life-changing products.

iDE designs products specifically for base-of-the-pyramid customers, and has done so for over 30 years. New product development requires creativity and a vision for what will succeed in a market context. Our vision for a new product is guided by three lenses: aspirational, accessible, affordable. The goal is to strike a balance between all three.

We give markets a jumpstart.

In a healthy market system, supply and demand interact organically, correcting one another, like a self-pruning tree. In the countries where we work, however, this process doesn’t happen naturally. It needs a jumpstart. iDE identifies market failures and creates solutions that are uncommon in developing nations. Innovation does not lie in the product alone. The product serves as a catalyst for a thriving business model that serves the needs of both producers and consumers.

We pioneered this approach 30 years ago with farmers. Today, we are continuously refining it, making it more holistic, and reaching greater numbers of people.

* Human-centered design is a research and design methodology developed by IDEO and adapted for the developing world context through a partnership with iDE.

Let's talk wash. WASH@ideorg.org

The Easy Latrine

The Easy Latrine is a packaged do-it-yourself product tailored to the needs and desires of rural Cambodians.

Most rural Cambodians would rather defecate in the bush than deal with the sights, smells and sounds of a traditional hole-in-the-ground latrine—not to mention the fear of falling in if the pit walls collapse. Cambodians aspire to own a latrine with a water trap to keep flies and smells at bay and a septic pit lined with concrete rings. This type of latrine would satisfy their top motivations: comfort, care for elderly, prestige and dignity (especially when hosting relatives from the big city). But a latrine that matched their ideal vision cost way too much. And it was a chore to purchase because each component was a separate transaction.

We used human-centered design to develop a simple latrine that got people 80% of the way to their ideal vision for about 20% of the cost. We transformed the purchase experience by replacing multiple vendors with one-stop shopping. The Easy Latrine is truly easy—it can be delivered, installed and used in the same day. A team of commission-based sales agents, highly uncommon in developing countries, creates demand for the Easy Latrine through door-to-door sales.

Results:

Local sales agents sold 100,000 latrines in a two-year period in rural Cambodia. This is an unprecedented result globally. Our monitoring & evaluation team has identified a ripple effect in the market of 1:1—for each of the 100,000 latrines sold by a business trained by iDE, another latrine was sold by a business not connected to iDE.

Our Partners:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Stone Family Foundation, Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank, Global Sanitation Fund

Video: Cambodia: Growing Momentum for Sanitation

Infographic: How do you sell 100,000 latrines?

Let's put a toilet in every home. WASH@ideorg.org

The Super Tunsai

The Super Tunsai water filter is a low-cost, but aspirational, water treatment product for households.

Cambodia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. To worsen matters, rural Cambodians commonly purify water by boiling it over a wood fire. In 2001, iDE introduced ceramic water filters in Cambodia as an affordable water treatment option to benefit public health, as well as the environment.

iDE partnered with PATH to design the aesthetic appearance of the water filter and increase purchases. The Tunsai is branded with a rabbit logo, and is designed to respond to users desires for status and modernity. It also has a convenient place to store cups underneath.

The Super Tunsai is manufactured and sold through Hydrologic Social Enterprise Co. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of iDE. Hydrologic has objectives for both financial achievement and positive social impact through improved public health, environmental care, stimulation of rural economic activity, and a commitment to ethical business practice.

The results:

Over 340,000 filters have been sold across Cambodia, positively impacting over 1.25 million people. Water filters also reduce the use of wood for boiling water, directly reducing deforestation and the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The carbon finance Project Design Document for Hydrologic makes a conservative estimate of 0.46 tonnes/year CO2e savings per household, so currently a total of 41,000 tonnes/year CO2e.

Business Fights Poverty Design Expo

Get connected with WASH. WASH@ideorg.org

The SanBox

The SanBox combines the quality control of mass production with the health benefits of a sanitary latrine.

Latrines are commonplace in Bangladesh, but roughly half are poor quality and are likely to spread diarrheal disease. Most poor people can’t afford a typical latrine, which requires skilled labor to produce and install. The SanBox combines the most technical components of a latrine in a single box that’s easy to buy and use. The final product is the result of two design collaborations.

First, we partnered with American Standard to design the SaTo pan, an improved latrine pan that upgrades a low-quality latrine into a sanitary one. The design uses a counterweight trapdoor to seal off access to the pit, preventing flies from spreading disease.

Second, we partnered with RFL, a local plastics manufacturer to turn the SaTo pan into a full latrine midstructure—the SanBox. The SanBox is manufactured by RFL and will be sold through RFL’s 3,500 retailers, with a presence in every district in Bangladesh.

Expected results:

RFL is poised to bring the SanBox to scale with a solid business model. About 40 million people in rural Bangladesh live without access to adequate sanitation. Once the SanBox goes into mass production in 2015, we plan to reduce that number dramatically. Moving beyond Bangladesh, RFL has plans to promote it as a mass-producible solution for global application.

Our initial donors for the SaTo pan: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank (WSP)

Invest in toilets. Invest in people. WASH@ideorg.org