About WaterSHED


“…that everyone is enabled to adopt appropriate water, sanitation and hygiene related behaviours.”


“WaterSHED engages local enterprises and government in the development of sustainable market-based approaches that empower households to be active and informed consumers of water, sanitation and hygiene products and services.”


“We believe integrity comes first; we strive for the highest efficiency and quality in our work; and we promote leadership at all levels.”

Lack of access to safe water, proper sanitation and effective hygiene is an on-going global health and development crisis resulting in millions of deaths and massive infectious disease morbidity burdens affecting billions of persons annually. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly one-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and the management of water resources. Inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene account for roughly 94 percent of the 4 billion cases of diarrhea that WHO estimates to occur globally each year. Children under the age of 5 in developing countries bear the greatest burden, accounting for the majority of the 1.5 million deaths attributed to diarrhea annually.

These impacts are greatest in developing countries, among the poorest people and communities, and on those with underlying risks factors, such as HIV-AIDS, the malnourished, infants, children and the elderly. The health and developmental effects of unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and inadequate personal hygiene perpetuate a cycle of poverty in which the poor become increasingly disadvantaged in a globalized economy.

Recent evidence documents that increased water access (i.e., adequate water quantity), improved water quality (by household water treatment and safe storage), effective sanitation (e.g., sanitary latrines) and proper hygiene (i.e., handwashing at critical times), all contribute to reduced diarrheal disease in children under age 5, with typical reductions of between 25-45% for each intervention (Ejemot et al., 2008; Fewtrell et al., 2005; Clasen et al., 2007; Sobsey et al., 2008; Curtis and Cairncross, 2003). These WSH interventions include a marketable technology or service, and a behavior change aspect, that, when implemented together, can effectively break the chain of disease transmission among adopting populations.


USAID’s foundational support for WaterSHED was to build a program that promoted increased access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene in Southeast Asia using commercial channels. The WaterSHED program – which stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprise Development – originally began as a public-private partnership led by UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. Between 2009 and 2012, USAID funded WaterSHED through its Global Development Alliance (GDA), a program designed to harness the power of the marketplace to create economic opportunities, improve health outcomes, and promote sustainable models for financing development.

The WaterSHED program’s overall implementation strategy was to:

  1. Develop, test and implement financially-sustainable business models for delivering effective and affordable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WSH) products and services to lower-income market segments;
  2. Strengthen and leverage the capacity of local entrepreneurs to deliver WSH products and services sustainably and profitably;
  3. Assess and document the ability of commercial enterprises to increase the sustained and proper use of WSH products and services; and,
  4. Collaborate with WSH partners through multiple platforms to develop marketing and other strategies and tools for scale-up and replication of public-private mechanisms focused on commercialization.