Design Expo 2014: Online Discussion - Delivering Water and Sanitation

(Ashley Thomas) #21


I think there is a clear pitch here for strong operational research. The role of operational research is to be able to give you empirical feedback to enable evidence based decision making, allowing you to design your business model to scale while still being locally relevant.

(Tara Lundy) #22

I think products designed to meet BOP needs can be scaled to a variety of countries without reinventing the wheel each time. When we create our LifeStraw filtration products, we simultaneously field test them in several different settings and regions and then make modifications necessary for them to fit those different contexts. Then the marketing, education, instructions, etc. become context specific. We use regional sales managers and distributors that can develop locally based marketing and behavior change strategies. I am also constantly working with partners to develop and adapt training and education materials. However, our products still span multiple countries and continents.

(Fanny Boulloud) #23

Well, we have a national scaling programme now in place in Guinea with chlorination flask. It started as a really small project 4 years ago via a social entreprise and is now reaching a national scale with the full commitment of the Guinean government. There are still lots of struggles, but having the governement really behind and proud of a national production has been helping a lot.

(F. Conor Riggs) #24

Another area we find that is increasingly important in-country for increasing the role of business in BoP WASH is building their capacity to shift from pure engineering to full-fledged design in their R&D departments/functions. Typically, SMEs and lead firms in the countries where we work are used to weak intellectual property rights and thus acquire new products in their portfolios through copying.

The problem with this is approach: no understanding of the BoP end user/consumer/customer, whatever you want to call them. As a result, both the NGO and the company find themselves surprised when the technology or service developed doesn't organically diffuse and low adoption rates result.

Better, we find, is to use an approach like HCD that is battle-tested and the secret behind the success of the largest and most successful firms worldwide to focus on what every management school has been saying for decades: customer-oriented products and business models get better results, everytime. For iDE, we have mainstreamed that thinking into all our work in WASH, use the approach to build that thinking in our private sector partners, and we think it's paying off with solutions that are more desirable for BoP consumers, and demonstrate profitability and scalability to our business partners both big and small.

(Fanny Boulloud) #25

Here more details of this social entreprise for your reference:

(Martina Nee) #26

I agree with Tara, products should be able to be designed to work in many countries. However since sanitation is a push product, there will always be the need to educate every new market, and that takes time. So scaling quickly is a matter of definition, what is quickly for a push product?

(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #27

Fanny - thanks for sharing that great example.

(F. Conor Riggs) #28
At iDE, we generally see three critical components to effect solutions in this regard:
1) Mainstreaming a customer-oriented approach: For iDE, Human-Centered Design is mainstreamed into all our WASH programming. Utilizing an approach that intrinsically focuses on the behavioral triggers and barriers of consumers/customers, but also of supply chain actors, enables us to find the “right” or at least “better” solution early into the piloting/demonstration phase – a solution more likely to be grounded in the incentive structures of the supply- and demand-side actors (& enabling environment players) with the greatest ability to a) diffuse the solution at increasing scales, b) access the solution with minimal devt. sector support/involvement over the long-run.
2) Partnerships with right global partners for external expertise and support: Whether working with IDEO on the HCD Toolkit, American Standard on the SaTo Pan, or RFL Plastics on a forthcoming mass-producible toilet, we know that leveraging skillsets from commercial players who know the technologies and/or production/distribution processes better than us are critical to success.
3) Partnerships in-country with the private sector that are grounded in the right contextualization to take to market in each specific country in which we are working: Market development is best delivered with a "spectrum of approaches" mentality. In Cambodia, we've facilitated the sale of 100,000 latrines in 2 years through a social enterprise-oriented model due to the relative immaturity of the local private sector in sanitation. In Ethiopia and Vietnam, the government is the key player to incentivize before introducing the private sector to the space. And in Bangladesh, we utilize a highly-M4P, "hands off" approach b/c of the relative market maturity.

(Ashley Thomas) #29

I wholly agree- but in that case, you're not designing the product as much as the messaging. That has a much quicker turn around time in the design phase, but needs careful consideration on the actual implementation. I agree with you that it is often the case that people see the product as the solution rather than the "software" and "hardware" package.

(Steven Sugden) #30

The management of a households excreta is based on decisions made by the HH so in a rural community in say Malawi , it will take 20 to 35 families each to make a decision not to open defecate to achieve full coverage. Each decision is very much influence by social norms, which can take a long time and the family have to manage the acquisition. Improving a families water quality would also tend to be a household based decision.

Water quantity tend to be a community level decision and is a bit of a no-brainer. Do you want an improved water supply? Who would say No. The real issues come to light when those same people have to put their hands in their pockets to pay for its maintenance and that is when the social cohesion tends to break down, along with the expensive water infrastructure.

(Fanny Boulloud) #31

Also agree with Tara and Martina, we shall tend to have solutions that will work around the world. But affordable technologies (for safe water production) varies from place to place and carefull customer survey should be also done... Education is indeed a very important point as Martina mentionned, and we are talking here about generation (educating the children is one of the way, educating parents and grand-parents is another one)

(F. Conor Riggs) #32

Great point, Martina. The question I might ask: Is sanitation ALWAYS a push product? If we can properly demonstrate the business potential to commercial players in the market, and work with them to develop strong marketing strategies to reach BoP consumers, does it remain a push strategy for us? And if the private sector can properly market sanitation products and services, doesn't diffusion become pull through those marketing channels?

(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #33

Martina - does that suggest an important role for NGOs and government to help educate new markets around the needs and benefits of new WASH product or service innovations? Do you have any examples?

(KC Koch) #34

Can you explain what you mean by "software"?

(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #35

Conor - thanks for sharing these great examples. Where can people go to find out more?

(Yi Wei) #36

Hey all,

Sincerest apologies - got my time zones mixed up - totally on me! I love where this discussion has been going, though. As Conor mentioned, we at iDE don't believe necessarily in a replicable model or product, but rather, a replicable process to understand the needs and wants of the users and the world of possibility in terms of business models around that. For us, we use Human-Centered Design as our process to understand users - both the end-users, and all relevant stakeholders along the value chain.

(F. Conor Riggs) #37

Great point, Tara. Most important in this area, I think, is to facilitate the right kind of productive, cooperative engagements between businesses and government in certification and regulation. Too often we see little communication between them that breeds mistrust and delays/rejections of high-potential solutions. Part of our approach is focused on the private sector "selling" the government on the merits of solutions we develop with them, so that the value of those solutions speak for themselves rather than have the NGO push behind them or are left to the vagaries of the existing private-public relations.

(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #38

Let's move on to the third question:

Q3: What are the next big challenges facing the WASH sector?

(F. Conor Riggs) #39

I completely agree, Tara. Another benefit of working with private enterprise is that they can sometimes provide an NGO with access to sophisticated R&D knowledge. That was the case with American Standard and the SaTo pan. Their R&D designers inspired us to think about the rest of our program in new ways. It opened doors for us to solve problems in ways we wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

(Martina Nee) #40

I would love for sanitation to become a pull product Conor! :-) However, if people are not generally making the link between health and hygiene it is hard to convince them to spend their money on a toilet. Of course, when selling a house hold toilet like we are, the safety aspect of not having to defecate out in the open is quickly embraced, especially among women.

But if we put great efforts in to education as Fanny is saying, I am convinced that behavioural change can be created in the long run. In Kibera slum we see that the Peepoo School Programme is one of our best promotional channels. The child-to-community effect is amazing!

But behavioural change is mostly seen through shifts of generations, and the expectation of business is often quick results, large impact in little time...