people collecting safe water

Stone Prize Winner

By Guest contributor 1 November 2012

Dispensers for Safe Water is delighted to have been awarded the Stone Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Water by the Stone Family Foundation. This investment will enable us to improve access to safe water for those in need, and demonstrate that a new cost-effective model to prevent waterborne disease can be brought to scale in Kenya.

Tens of millions of Kenyans lack access to safe water. Diarrhoeal disease is the leading cause of death for Kenyan children under the age of five, and a major cause of diarrhoea is unsafe drinking water. We address this devastating public health concern with an innovative water treatment service—the Chlorine Dispenser System (CDS). We install chlorine dispensers at communal water sources such as wells and boreholes and make it easy to transform bacteria-laden water into safe drinking water. Community members simply turn the dispenser valve, releasing a measured dose of chlorine into their container, and then fill up the container with water as usual. The chlorine disinfects the water, and protects against recontamination during transport and storage, helping to ensure that water remains safe for everyone to drink. It’s just like getting chlorinated water out of our taps at home.

Community education and promotion are essential to the success of our Chlorine Dispenser System. Before we install the dispenser, we engage community leaders on the impact of waterborne disease and the benefits of chlorination. After installation, we work with communities to inform them of the dangers of contaminated water, and teach them how to treat water with the chlorine dispenser at their local water source. Communities elect a local promoter, who publicises the dispenser, encourages its use, and maintains a consistent supply of chlorine for people to access every time they go to the water source.

One of CDS’s major advantages over other methods of water treatment is its cost-effectiveness. By using inexpensive bulk chlorine refills and simple long-lasting hardware, we can provide access to safe water for as little as £0.30 per person per year. The low cost of the program at scale allows it to be funded through two innovative financing channels—bundling with existing services and accessing carbon credit revenues.

We applied for the Stone Prize because we recognised that the Stone Family Foundation could help us attain our goals of providing safe water at scale. Both organisations are committed to innovation, entrepreneurship, and scaling activities to bring safe water to the millions of people who need it. Dispensers for Safe Water has already demonstrated proof of concept for the CDS through randomised controlled trials and has begun the early stages of implementation. We are now poised for a major phase of program expansion, so we are incredibly excited to have found a partner in the Stone Family Foundation. The Stone Prize will provide the resources required to launch the CDS into successful large-scale implementation in Kenya.

The next phase of our program will be focused on expanding the CDS to thousands of new communities and setting up the distribution channels to provide them with a consistent, sustained supply of chlorine. The Stone Prize will cover a significant proportion of upfront program costs, allowing us to both expand quickly and leverage the foundation’s initial investment with sustained financing for ongoing service delivery through our financing mechanisms. Thanks to the Stone Family Foundation, Dispensers for Safe Water will expand to bring safe water to millions in Kenya and prove that innovative financing mechanisms can sustainably address pressing public health needs in developing countries.