PATH and the Safe Water Project: Making Safe Water Products More Affordable

By Lyn Denend, Tim Elliott, Stefanos Zenios
2013 | Case No. OIT109 | Length 16 pgs.

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The purpose of the grant was to evaluate to what extent market-based approaches could help accelerate the widespread adoption and sustained use of household water treatment and safe storage products by low-income populations. One of the key objectives of this effort was to explore how the private sector could help make HWTS products more affordable. By conducting a portfolio of field-based pilots in collaboration with commercial partners, the PATH team sought to better understand the effect of different pricing, consumer financing, and subsidy models on demand within low-income population in developing countries. Over several years, the Safe Water Project team experimented with different affordability models, including microfinance loans for water filters and a layaway program. Although specific results varied across the pilots, which spanned India, Cambodia, and Kenya, they collectively gave rise to series of important insights about the affordability of HWTS products.

Learning Objective

Explore how market-based solutions can be used to address public health needs. Evaluate the effectiveness of different consumer financing and pricing approaches and their impact on the uptake of safe water products. Understand key risks and success factors related to consumer finance and pricing in a global health context.

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