Hydrologic silver-impregnated ceramic water purifiers (CWPs) have been proven to remove at least 99.99% of harmful bacteria from drinking water. The CWP fits snugly into the top of a specially designed plastic container with a lid to protect against recontamination. Hydrologic CWPs are manufactured in Cambodia using locally available resources and skills. The CWPs are sold through three distinct sales channels targeting customers earning less than $5 per day using an innovative human-centered direct sales approach. Hydrologic Social Enterprise also partners with microfinance institutions to facilitate microloans for CWPs, therefore ensuring the filters are financially accessible to poorer households.
When Hydrologic Social Enterprise was founded in 2009, 66% of Cambodian households, 18 million people, lacked access to safe drinking water (National Institute of Statistics, 2008). These conditions resulted in 10 million cases of diarrhea and 10,000 deaths per year. Young children are particularly vulnerable and water-borne disease was a major contributor to Cambodia’s under-five mortality (88/1000 live births), one of the highest rates in Asia (UNICEF 2009).
A 2007 UNICEF study in Cambodia showed that use of CWPs resulted in a 46% reduction in diarrheal disease. Families using CWPs can also expect significant economic benefits. A 2010 study by iDE found that households using CWPs saved US$73 per year on medical bills and on lost wages related to diarrhea, compared to people who don’t treat their water.
Hydrologic Social Enterprise currently produces two CWP models to target different market segments, a basic CWP and a larger model with extra storage volume and more attractive external styling. The poorest customers (earning less than $1 /day) are reached via institutional sales, where NGOs acquire the basic CWP from Hydrologic and distribute it to households. The other customer segment, those earning between $1 and $5 per day, is served through retail and direct sales. Since 2010, an additional village-to-village CWP sales channel has been developed.
Stage of development: produced in serial production
The ceramic filter pot fits into a plastic container with a lid and space to store about 12 liters of clean water. When filled with untreated water, the water percolates through the ceramic by gravity filtration at a typical rate of 1-3 liters per hour. Bacteria down to 0.2μm are physically blocked and also killed by the silver.