In late 2006, the PATH Safe Water Project received a $17 million grant from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its purpose was to evaluate how market-based approaches could help accelerate the widespread adoption and sustained use of household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) products among the world’s poor. Traditionally, this sector had been dominated by government and philanthropic solutions. Through a portfolio of field-based pilots, PATH intended to experiment with different commercial models for addressing this dire need.
One of PATH’s pilots tested a direct sales model in Kenya by making a durable safe water product — a ceramic water pot (CWP) — available through a basket of goods approach. The vendors who PATH partnered with were enthusiastic to experiment with offering the CWP. However, they quickly ran into a practical challenge. Consumers, who generally weren’t familiar with CWPs, wanted to see and touch the product, taste the filtered water, and interact with the device before making a purchasing decision. Yet the vendors were unable to carry the bulky, fragile CWPs long distances by foot. This mini-case study explains the creative solution PATH and its partner devised to address this challenge.
This story is part of the Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Tim Elliott and the PATH Safe Water Project team for their participation. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.