We only implement programs that have been rigorously evaluated, that have proven and measurable impact, and that are cost-effective. We periodically review and assess the evidence base for our programs to ensure that we are aware of potential changes which may impact our assessment of the underlying strength of evidence for a program and to adapt our programs. The following is our current assessment of the evidence base for Dispensers for Safe Water.
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As the world watched the COP21 negotiations in Paris, we were paying close attention to the discussions on the future of carbon markets. While not a perfect system, the generation of carbon credits is one of the hallmarks of Dispensers for Safe Water, allowing the program to become self-sustaining and your donation to go further.
A new review of safe water, hygiene and sanitation research seems just as interested in the question of adoption as we are. What factors affect sustained adoption of safe water, hygiene and sanitation technologies? is a systematic review of the literature completed an in-depth synthesis of 44 published studies explicitly reporting on sustained adoption. What did the authors find, and how does this evidence square with what our approach to a sustainable water service - Dispensers for Safe Water?
At the beginning of the year, our adoption rates for Dispensers for Safe Water in Uganda were low. We needed to figure out what was happening and how to turn this trend around quickly. Here is what happened and what we did - in the great turnaround of 2015.
"We will get to 49% adoption" said Joel determinedly. We were standing in a makeshift meeting room tacked onto the end of the Evidence Action field office in Busia, Western Kenya. Joel is the local Area Coordinator for Dispensers for Safe Water, one of Evidence Action’s flagship projects. My first impressions as the new Deputy Director of Global Safe Water on how Evidence Action is approaching sustainability and results differently.
Up to 80% of households within a community use Dispensers for Safe Water in the first three months of installation, and 40% on average for the months following. But we have seen that this customer uptake--what we call ‘adoption'--has gone down in some geographical areas. So we took a close look at what works in getting our customers to use Dispensers and chlorinate their water.
We use data every day. It’s critically important to our work. As an evidence-based organization, we rely on high-quality, timely and systematic measurement of inputs, outputs, and outcomes to make decisions about our work, and evaluate our progress. We measure to make decisions; we choose our methods depending on the question we want to answer.
So what data that we collect and use, and why?
Evidence Action’s Dispensers for Safe Water program currently provides access to sustainable safe drinking water services to about two million people. This reach will extend to four million by the end of this year and 25 million by 2018. Scaling up this program, which is proven to be highly effective, takes new and innovative financing approaches. We are committed to providing sustainable services. How do we do this?
We do not recover costs directly via user fees in our Dispensers for Safe Water program. There is rigorous evidence in the rural water sector, and in preventative health more generally, that charging user fees screens out many people as people are not willing to pay for very much at all for these services and there are many competing demands in families for scarce resources.
Even at an anticipated low cost of $0.50 per person per year at scale, we needed to put in place the necessary financing to ensure that dispensers can be maintained and refilled with chlorine over the long-term.
One option that helps us achieve our dual commitments to sustainable services and zero user fees is revenue from carbon credits. How do they work?