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A new, single-issue magazine called Perspectives summarizes key findings and research highlights from a five-year effort led by PATH to explore strategies for increasing access to and use of household water treatment and safe storage products among low-income households.

As PATH’s Safe Water Project comes to an end, this magazine-style final report distills the research, strategic plans, pilot results, and insights into one visually engaging and easy-to-read publication examining the role commercial markets can play in improving access to safe drinking water. The magazine allows both commercial and public health colleagues to browse the content, with each article pointing to more in-depth information available online.

“Basically, we need each other”

Primary findings from the project include the best approaches to continued investment in market-based solutions for safe household drinking water. Market-based approaches can extend and enhance the reach of public health programs and nongovernmental organizations. Commercial manufacturers are a key source of product innovation, with the marketing tools to increase uptake quickly. 

Yet commercial entities need support and guidance from nonprofit and government partners to reach lower-income households and improve correct and consistent use over time. “Basically, we need each other,” said Glenn Austin, director of the Safe Water Project.

Perspectives offers lessons for many sectors

PATH also found that commercial markets can only go so far. “The poorest-of-the-poor do not yet participate in the market. Those families will require ongoing subsidies and support from government and nonprofit sectors,” Austin said. “We should strive to make sure those subsidies do not inhibit commercial markets serving the middle-poor. We need all partners working together—commercial, government, nonprofit, social enterprise, and others—to ensure safe drinking water for all.”

Many of the lessons learned from the Safe Water Project also apply to other sectors, Austin added, including sanitation, clean air, and hygiene.

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Posted: November 6, 2012.