Advanced Search

Please click here to take a brief survey

Safe Water At The Base Of The Pyramid: What Works? What Doesn’t? What’s Next?

By Francisco Noguera

IFC recently issued Safe Water for All, a thorough and illustrative report about the opportunities for the private sector in delivering clean water to the base of the pyramid. It sheds light on many of the topics covered in the review published here in NextBillion back in 2008, such as the challenges of pricing and distribution for Point of Use devices at the BoP and the many different approaches (in terms of business models, legal structures, technologies, partnerships, etc.) that can be seen in community scale models such as those of companies like EPGL, Naandi and WaterHealth International, three of many actors that have helped make this a fast-growing phenomenon in that country.

The report offers concrete recommendations to help drive these approaches to scale, many of which are concerned with the issue of offering flexible financing alternatives for entrepreneurs and for potential customers alike. However, there's an issue that comes across with even greater frequency throughout the report, and it is that of design considerations for clean water solutions at the BoP. Though technologies are already out there capable of dealing with most of water quality issues, close attention must be given to cultural and behavioral patterns, which are most relevant when it comes to a resource like water.

By offering an overview of available alternatives for water treatment at the BoP (as well as useful country profiles that characterize the opportunities for water-related ventures in various regions), IFC's report fills a gap that existed in this space's literature. However, the issue is so acute that it merits similarly thorough pieces providing in-depth analysis of the different angles of the water issue in low income communities. (We'll be publishing an updated piece on community scale approaches during the fall so stay tuned for that.) Besides, we should be swift and start discussing the role of enterprise in dealing with tomorrow's water challenges.

Indeed, entrepreneurial approaches seem to be gaining traction in some areas, dealing primarily with today's challenges of water quality and sanitation. A changing climate, degraded ecosystems and a growing population are the input variables. What are the foreseeable consequences in the availability and quality of water resources? Does enterprise have a role to play in low income settings? Yesterday's too late to start this discussion.

So while you read their water report, I'll get started on another piece by IFC concerned with mitigation and adaptation to the effects of climate change. Maybe it'll shed some light on these questions.

This piece originally appeared on

Photo credit: Flickr/Meanest Indian, Creative Commons License.

Bookmark and Share


I really love the LifeStraw idea. It would be even better if the technology were open sourced.

We can't depend on infrastructure to provide the essentials, especially in the developing world.

Posted by: Edward on 16 Jul 09

Post A Comment

Please note that comments will remain open for only 14 days after the article is posted. While previous comments will remain visible, attempts to post new comments after this period will fail. This helps stop comment spam, so your forebearance is appreciated.

The Worldchanging comments are meant to be used for further exploration and evaluation of the ideas covered in our posts. Please note that, while constructive disagreement is fine, insults and abuse are not, and will result in the comment being deleted and a likely ban from commenting. We will also delete at will and without warning comments we believe are designed to disrupt a conversation rather than contribute to it. In short, we'll kill troll posts.

Finally, please note that comments which simply repost copyrighted works or commercial messages will be summarily deleted.

Yes No







MESSAGE (optional):

Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg