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How to spend a penny

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This paper summarises ten lessons the Stone Family Foundation has learned from funding in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to share knowledge with other funders and the WASH sector as a whole. Despite clean water, sanitation and hygiene being basic necessities, investment is woefully lacking and many traditional approaches to funding have not worked. Funding more innovative, entrepreneurial initiatives can offer more effective, enduring solutions.

10 lessons from funding market-based approaches in water, sanitation and hygiene

Clean water, sanitation and hygiene are basic necessities that we all take for granted. But today over 740 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and one in three do not have a hygienic toilet. This has devastating consequences: water-related diseases such as typhoid kill two million people every year, and diarrhoea is the second biggest cause of death among children under five.

Despite this shocking situation, investment in water and sanitation is woefully lacking, and many traditional approaches to funding water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) have not worked—lack of planning and commitment to maintenance has resulted in a huge waste of capital as infrastructure falls into disrepair and disuse.

To help address this problem, the Stone Family Foundation—a UK charitable trust which NPC has worked with since 2005—directs 75% of its funding (around £4m per year) to market-based solutions in WASH. The process undertaken to develop this focus is documented in our publication A funder journey.

This paper summarise ten lessons the Stone Family Foundation has learned since 2010—to share knowledge with other funders and the WASH sector as a whole and to show how the Foundation’s funding approach has been further adapted as a result. Examples from some of the Foundation’s grantees are included to illustrate the points made.

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