Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprise Development (WaterSHED) Mid-Term Evaluation Report

In the early 2000s, leading global stakeholders in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), began looking for innovative ways to engage the private sector in the provision of WASH products and services required to support key hygiene behaviors with proven health benefits. The private sector has the potential to become leaders in the promotion of the correct, consistent and sustained use of commercial products and services to generate sustainable markets for them and to maximize their public health impact. The private sector can apply their commercial marketing expertise to make products and services available, affordable, and attractive to consumers so that they will (1) more frequently safely store and treat drinking water at the point-of-use, (2) practice optimal handwashing methods and frequency, and (3) dispose of human feces in a sanitary manner.

In 2008, when USAID’s Regional Environment Office (REO) in the Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA) was allocated water funds under the Water for the Poor Act, the REO became interested in complementing its regional work in water supply and with municipal utilities by including a component addressing households and supporting health impact from WASH investments. RDMA and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) jointly designed a Global Development Alliance (GDA) to test the hypothesis that the private sector can play a pivotal and positive role in bringing WASH products and services to scale in lower-income markets in the Mekong region, with initial country-based activities in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. A Cooperative Agreement was signed in September 2008 with US$8.5 million in USAID funding and a requirement of at least a 1:1 match from UNC and its partners. The resulting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprise Development (WaterSHED) Project was designed to:

  • Develop, test and implement financially sustainable business models for delivering effective and affordable WASH products and services;
  • Strengthen and leverage the capacity of local entrepreneurs to deliver WASH products and services sustainably and profitably;
  • Assess and document the ability of commercial enterprises to increase the sustained and proper use of WASH products and services; and
  • Collaborate with WASH partners through multiple platforms to develop marketing and other strategies and tools for scale-up and replication of public-private mechanisms focused on commercialization of products and services.

This document details the findings of a mid-term evaluation conducted in May 2011.