WASH Product Designer

WaterSHED is a local non-governmental organization (NGO) registered in Cambodia. 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 (WASH) products and services. Direct assistance provided by WaterSHED encompasses areas of technical support such as business trainings and marketing support, research and design of new products and water supply schemes, and product quality assurance. Furthermore, WaterSHED also provides research and assistance related to social, behavioral, business, and financial aspects of implementation activities. WaterSHED now seeks a talented professional to undertake the following position:

The WASH Product Designer will lead an in-house practice area to design new water, sanitation, and hygiene products targeted at rural households in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia. WaterSHED seeks a Designer with consultative and iterative design philosophy, which puts the focus on the consumer and his/her motivations, constraints, aspirations, and needs. Our objective is to introduce both incremental improvements as well as game-changing designs that can reshape the market opportunity for local product suppliers. Typically this means developing products and the systems around them which make them affordable, accessible, attractive, durable and easy to install.

Key Parameters:

Duration: At least 6 month full-time effort
Job Title: WASH Product Designer
Location: Phnom Penh (with regional travel)

This position is available as a 6-month fellowship and is renewable as a staff position.

Design projects:
The WASH product designer will tackle design problem #1 and may work on one or more of the additional projects.

  1. Latrine Shelter Design
    WaterSHED’s Hands-Off sanitation marketing program has the goal of improving the supply of safe, sustainable, and affordable sanitation products and services through local market channels. It ignites consumer demand by directly addressing consumption barriers and focusing on the motivators for households to prioritize the purchase and use of sanitation products. It also encourages government leadership to create a receptive environment for sanitation businesses to succeed. Since 2009, it has become the largest and most cost-effective program of its kind in the world, with more than 150 local private businesses that work closely with sales agents, input suppliers, and local government. Having built a network primarily to produce and sell over 60,000 latrine core sets (the plumbing), WaterSHED has learned that perhaps the most significant remaining barrier for rural Cambodian consumers to install a toilet is the desire to save money to build a permanent shelter (the above ground amenities including walls and roof).A comprehensive consumer adoption study conducted by WaterSHED in 2012 supported this: 55% of ‘non-installer’ respondents cited the shelter as the primary reason for not adopting toilet. The study also confirmed that the vast majority of rural Cambodians indeed desire toilets with permanent shelter structures. Roughly 77% of rural households without a latrine indicated that they want a pour-flush latrine and the vast majority (61%) said they were delaying purchase until they had enough money for a shelter, particularly a nice shelter with a roof.

    This project will iteratively design and test-market a solution that will unlock access for a significant portion of the more than 70% of rural Cambodians who lack a toilet. WaterSHED’s existing network of value chain actors represents the ideal platform for introducing the necessary infrastructure – of which the most important remaining part is an affordable, attractive, and accessible shelter.

    It is expected that a design team, led by the WASH Product Designer and comprising local WaterSHED technical staff assigned on a temporary basis, will develop a range of shelter options (as necessary) to maximize market uptake among rural consumers. The WASH Product Designer will work closely with local producers and manufacturers to create and develop concepts. S/he will lead a team of other staff within WaterSHED throughout the project.

  2. Rainwater harvesting products design

    In rural Cambodia, rainwater is the preferred water source for drinking, cooking and other uses. Informal rainwater harvesting (RWH) is practiced by some 80% of rural households. The informality of the systems results in inefficiencies in rainwater collection and exposes the high quality rainwater to microbiological contamination.

    Pioneering work by the NGO RainWater Cambodia has led to the development and adaptation of local technologies to improve RWH efficiencies and water quality, to reduce the cost, and to enable easier installation of RWH systems.

    To date, there has been no effort in Cambodia to understand more systematically the preferences of rural consumers for this type of product and associated services or any work to productize a RWH system in a ‘kit’ form.

    This project would iteratively design and test-market a solution that will unlock access for a significant portion of the more than 80% of rural Cambodians who prefer rainwater for drinking. WaterSHED’s existing network of value chain actors represents the ideal platform for introducing the necessary infrastructure.

  3. Handwashing device options and accessories

    Consistent handwashing is one of the most cost-effective tools for alleviating a tremendous disease burden among the poor, especially children under five. It is an especially effective barrier against diarrheal disease, which is responsible for more child deaths worldwide than HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria combined. A recent systematic review of observational and experimental studies cited reductions in diarrhea of 48 percent for handwashing with soap (Cairncross, et al., 2010).

    Recently WaterSHED introduced a purpose-built handwashing device, the HappyTap, on the market in Vietnam. Developed through a rigorous design and iterative testing phase led by IDEO, the HappyTap reflects the right mix of aesthetic appeal, functionality, durability, and affordability. In 2012, limited-scale test-marketing validated assumptions about the product price, distribution strategy, and ultimately the marketability of the device. Since mid-2013, the product has been commercially marketed in Vietnam.

    The aim of this design project is twofold:

    1. Adapt and expand to Cambodia: WaterSHED has the ambition to adapt the product as necessary to commercially launch in Cambodia in 2014. The aim would be to build a dynamic commercial market in Cambodia for the HappyTap in which businesses can earn a competitive return, consumers are empowered with attractive and affordable product choices, and in which the gains from large scale behavior change programs are cemented with consistent, practiced behavior.
    2. Extend the offering: WaterSHED believes there could be an opportunity to expand the range of options for HappyTap, including various accessories and amenities that could be sold as add-ons (e.g. mirror, cosmetics tray and holder, toothbrush and toothpaste holder, and places for a comb, brush, and other toiletries. Furthermore, a wall-mounted option may be attractive to household consumers, as may be larger versions for primary schools and health centers.
  4. Infant and young children’s faeces management products (potties)
    Appropriate handling and disposal of infant and young children’s faeces (IYCFM) is an important part of minimizing the risk of transmission of disease.A comprehensive consumer adoption study conducted by WaterSHED in 2012 revealed that amongst latrine owners, 56 percent of household with an infant disposed of faeces in the latrine with 44 percent burying the faeces. Amongst non-latrine owners, 41.5 percent bury the waste, 29 percent leave infant’s faeces in the open and 17 percent throw it in the garbage. Simple, child-friendly devices that enable capture and retention of the faeces, ensure complete disposal to a latrine and/or appropriate burial and that are easily cleaned are not readily known nor available in rural markets.The aim of a design project component would be two-fold:

    1. Identify rural household preferences for infant and children’s faeces disposal products: Identify, cost and catalogue existing products available in the urban markets, identify rural supply chain linkages for any existing products, test available products with target rural households (households with children under 5 years) and rate the products according to preference based on different indicators of attractiveness, ease of use, cost etc.
    2. Develop marketing strategies for the rural consumers: WaterSHED has the ambition to develop this type of device as a commercially-viable rural household product. The aim is to add this to the product mix of WASH products and services being offered, in which businesses can earn a competitive return, consumers are empowered with attractive and affordable product choices, and in which the gains from large-scale behavior change programs are cemented with consistent, practiced behavior.

Expected Design Approach:
From the beginning of each project, WaterSHED would expect the Designer to engage prospective consumers, local businesses, government and sector stakeholders. WaterSHED’s Executive Director was a member of the human-centered design team led by IDEO that developed the low-cost latrine core (plumbing) of the Hands-off Sanitation Marketing program and has experience in uncovering and incorporating critical input from low-income consumers. We would want the Designer to work closely with our Director and supporting team.

The Designer will also conduct a desk review and research options available globally. While many product concepts may not be directly appropriate for the Cambodian context, we expect that some models could be adapted.

Rapid Prototyping: Promising design options would be assessed through the lenses of desirability to the consumer, technical feasibility, and business viability.

We expect the Designer to begin putting tangible products into the hands of prospective consumers and producers very early in the process. In previous discussions with existing businesses, many valuable ideas have already arisen that can be tested. The primary activity at this stage is to gain user feedback through test sales. WaterSHED has extensive experience in test-selling and may conduct prospective door-to-door and group sales events as well as in-home trials of potential products.

Duties of the WASH Product Designer:

  • Lead the user-centric design process for new and adapted WASH products to be sold on the market in Southeast Asia.
  • Engage a cross-disciplinary team as required to develop innovative solutions to the complicated problems related to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • Ensure the design projects run smoothly, completing the process within the allocated timeframe and budget.
  • Represent WaterSHED and present the projects at various international forums.
  • Undertake other duties as required.

Skills and competencies:

  1. Degree in design, engineering, or other relevant qualification.
  2. Past experience in human centered design.
  3. Ability to think methodically; to design, plan, and manage projects.
  4. Ability to maintain an overview of entire projects while dealing with technical details.
  5. Negotiation and leadership skills.
  6. The following are desirable:
    1. facility with design software
    2. familiarity with various construction materials

Personal Attributes:

  1. Appreciation of the objectives and values of WaterSHED.
  2. Excellent communication skills.
  3. Good at problem solving and critical thinking with an ability to work independently.
  4. Ability to work on multiple tasks and meet tight deadlines.
  5. Honest and trustworthy.

Interested applicants please send:

  1. WaterSHED application form (download)
  2. Cover letter
  3. C.V. or Resume, with the names and contact of three referees
  4. Example work or portfolio

(Do not send scans of certificates)

to cambodia@watershedasia.org with the subject “WASH Product Designer”. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview. For further information about the organization: http://www.watershedasia.org .

Closing date: 20 January 2014.

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