Can the private sector improve access to safe drinking water?

PATH's Safe Water Project summarizes its findings in a new publication.

If households living on just a few dollars per day can purchase soap, shampoo, and cell phone minutes, they ought to have access to products that purify their drinking water. But do they? Will households spend money on water purification products? Are the products affordable and appropriate?

The Safe Water Project was launched five years ago to explore the extent to which commercial markets could meet the need for appropriate, affordable household water treatment products among low-income households.

This week, we present the most valuable nuggets of learning from the project in a new publication called Perspectives. The name, Perspectives, was chosen in recognition that ours is a unique, and in some ways limited, market-based view of safe drinking water and is just one of many ways to approach the global water problem.

The magazine format is new to us. We selected it because we felt it would be more inviting and accessible than a report. It forced us to be concise and relevant to both experts and non-experts who can then be selective about which in-depth reports to access online. Our vision is that this magazine, picked up for a quick browse, will reveal new and useful ideas about how to improve access to safe water using the power of markets in developing countries.

Each section highlights a different aspect of our work:

ORIGINS describes the reasons for focusing on the intersection between health, household water treatment, and the commer­cial sector.

PEOPLE describes what we learned about households and how their point of view helped us understand market limitations and opportunities.

PRODUCTS describes our efforts to stimulate choice and competition among HWTS manufacturers and build better HWTS products for the poor.

DISCOVERIES summarizes our commercial pilot projects, where we engaged companies in reaching low-income households with HWTS products.

IMPLICATIONS discusses our analysis and synthesis of results and provides our own perspective of what we learned and where to go next.

BEYOND describes how the results of our work might impact others in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector.

Our entire WASH team and our valued partners hope you will find the articles provocative and stimulating, as they represent a new direction in the HWTS field specifically and the WASH field more generally, which we think adds value to the ongoing work of the many committed researchers, governments, organizations, businesses, and citizens seeking to ensure safe drinking water for all.

View the magazine online:

Order a print copy by

All photos: PATH