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Camille Saadé Presents Key POUZN Results at 2011 Water and Health Conference

Camille Saadé, Project Director of the USAID-funded Point-Of-Use Water Disinfection and Zinc Treatment Project (POUZN), is presenting a poster at the 2011 Water and Health Conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The poster, "A Successful POU Business Model: NGOs as Micro-distributors in India," represents POUZN team efforts in India to demonstrate a comprehensive strategy addressing barriers related to awareness, acceptance, availability, and affordability of POU (Point-Of-Use) water treatment methods.

The conference runs from October 3 to 7, 2011; event sponsors include Procter & Gamble (P&G), The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and Pfizer.

"Safe drinking water can prevent up to 40% of diarrheal diseases in children, hence reduce morbidity and mortality," says Chandra Sharma, the Chief of Party for the POUZN project in India. "Methods for water treatments are readily available and both for-profit and non-profit organizations can make the water treatment methods known, attractive, easy to use and affordable."

The project initially created a partnership with the commercial sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and microfinance institutions (MFI) to establish commercially viable and scalable models for penetration of low cost, high quality water purifiers among lower income groups. During the pilot phase, Women Self-Help Groups (SHG) were targeted and POUZN worked to increase consumer choice. The project introduced other POU methods such as commercially available chlorine products, while also promoting non-commercial methods such as boiling and solar disinfection. According to sales data from the partners, 71 percent of SHG members used at least one form of POU methods.

From 2007 - 2010, the project reached 674,064 households—or approximately 4 million people—residing in 1,120 urban slum areas and 1,350 rural villages in Uttar Pradesh. Sales data collected by project-supported NGOs for the final year of field support indicated that 21 percent of families reported using some POU method in both urban and rural areas. While sales and use rates were not as high as in the intense pilot phase, introduction of chlorine products was successful in both urban and rural areas (with 12 percent currently using chlorine liquid, 8.4 percent chlorine tablets and only 1 percent using filters). Limited access to microcredit among families prevented filter sales from reaching the same levels as during the pilot.

Lessons learned through POUZN in India indicate that the commercial and NGO sectors showed a willingness to adopt a new business model together to reach those below the poverty line; an engaged commercial sector was able to reach a substantial new market by partnering with NGOs and microfinance institutions; and that NGOs can build capabilities to become effective educators and product micro-distributors. Commissions on product sales offered an incentive to NGOs. Ultimately the project concluded that long-term viability of NGO POU product distribution should be monitored, but looks promising given the decision by both project NGOs to establish social marketing arms.

Download the poster "A Successful POU Business Model: NGOs as Micro-distributors in India" (1.61 MB PPTX).

Posted October 2011

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