Archive: LInkedin -

17 October 2012 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Carbon Finance Boosts iDE’s Clean Water Business in Cambodia

photo by David Graham

For the first time in Asia, a sustainable and market-based water filtration business has been registered under the voluntary Gold Standard scheme, and will benefit from carbon offset funding, illustrating that carbon markets can support sustainable technologies that improve the lives of poor populations. iDE’s Cambodian social enterprise, Hydrologic, manufactures ceramic water purifiers which provide clean water to rural households, reduce the amount of wood burned to boil water, create local jobs, and bolster economic development. Hydrologic was recently named winner of a 2012 Ashden Award. Start-up resources for Hydrologic came from several sources including the USAID WaterSHED project in form of grants and technical assistance.

Nearly 40% of rural Cambodians still have no access to safe drinking water. Untreated water and poor sanitation result in about 10 million cases of diarrhea and 10,000 deaths per year in Cambodia, mainly affecting children in rural areas. iDE’s Hydrologic produces and sells ceramic water filters that provide safe drinking water to rural households of Cambodia. By displacing water boiling practices, the filters allow Cambodian households to avoid the unsustainable burning of 18,000 tons of wood per year, saving 41,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. Thanks to this impressive environmental impact, the project has completed its registration under the voluntary Gold Standard scheme, an award winning certification standard for carbon mitigation projects.

The project has two major features:
• It uses a market based approach: Hydrologic Social Enterprise believes that sustainable business is a powerful way to provide clean water for as many people as possible. It created a market for water purifiers in Cambodia by selling affordable filters to NGO programs, and via shops and rural sales agents. Households benefit from a low cost water filtration technology, and the local economy is bolstered by the establishment of production and distribution facilities.
• Carbon offsets ensure a sustainable business model, as the carbon revenue is directly re-invested into further scaling up project activities.

Hydrologic joined Nexus, a nonprofit cooperative of NGOs and social enterprises that scale up development solutions by leveraging sustainable funding from the sale of high-quality carbon offsets, a concept referred to as “Carbon for Development.” Nexus provided financial and technical assistance with the carbon certification process, and is supporting the commercialization of carbon credits by engaging companies and public institutions on a fair approach to offsetting.

Hydrologic’s sustainable business model and its numerous benefits for the environment have also attracted private sector support. An impact investor, Impact Finance, provided a loan to support the development of the project, and a multinational company, Deutsche Post DHL, has committed to purchase carbon credits originating from the project.



19 November 2011 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

iDE Launches New Toilet Project

Happy Cambodian Family with New Latrine

Lack of access to sanitation is a major problem affecting the developing world. Poor sanitation is a major cause of diarrheal disease, lost labor productivity for adults, missed school days for children, and additional financial burdens for families requiring medical treatment. In Cambodia alone, diarrheal diseases account for 17 percent of deaths in children under five. The World Bank recently estimated the annual economic loss due to poor sanitation there to be $448 million a year, which is equivalent to 7.2 percent of GDP.

Existing markets for rural sanitation in the developing world are woefully underdeveloped. Low demand and weak supply chains hinder the availability of sanitation products and services. Publicly funded sanitation projects often make extensive use of hardware subsidies with disappointing results; typically, only a fraction of the subsidy reaches the intended target group, and recipients often do not use or maintain their latrines over time.

For a number of years now in Asia, iDE has been at the forefront of Sanitation Marketing developments to address these challenges. iDE recently completed a pilot project in Cambodia that exceeded expectations by enabling 9.6 percent of the rural population to purchase sanitary latrines in eleven target districts over a 16-month period.

Now, a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made it possible to expand these achievements on a national scale, improving the sanitation conditions of tens of thousands of rural households while stimulating vibrant and sustainable sanitation markets. Over a three-year period, the Cambodia Sanitation Marketing Scale-Up Project will build on the original pilot project by working directly with some 90 local enterprises, encouraging them to invest their own resources into addressing the demand for sanitary latrines.

The project will enable 115,000 households in 60 districts of Cambodia to purchase affordable sanitary latrines. Other outcomes include:

• Improved latrine designs for two “challenging environments”

• Sanitation financing mechanisms for consumer households and supply chain enterprises

• A research and training center to become a global dissemination platform for Sanitation Marketing experience

The total cost of the project is estimated at $6,942,199. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded iDE a grant of $3,987,717. Other key partners in the project include the Stone Family Foundation, the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program, PATH, and the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Sanitation Marketing has emerged as a highly effective approach for rapidly and sustainably improving rural sanitation at scale by connecting consumers with products that they want and can afford. Evidence from a number of recent projects demonstrates that stimulating private enterprises to address the untapped rural sanitation market can have a revolutionary impact on the uptake of sanitary latrines—with associated health and financial gains for rural households.

The Sanitation Marketing model leverages the advantages of private sector entities, civil society, and government to reach large numbers of rural households in short time frames. Donor funds are not used to provide direct subsidies for hardware or installation. Instead they are invested in laying the foundations for demand-driven, self-financing market systems.

Broadly, Sanitation Marketing applies iDE’s market-based poverty alleviation approach to the related problem of inadequate sanitation. First, we develop a deep understanding of the target group’s needs and aspirations, and adapt or design affordable technology options to meet those needs. We strengthen the capacity of local enterprises to manufacture and deliver the technologies, conduct social marketing campaigns to encourage the purchase and proper use of the technologies, and coordinate with NGOs, microfinance institutions, and government agencies to extend scale and to reach poorer households.

24 June 2010 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Easy Latrine Wins IDEA Award!

IDEA Award Winning Easy Latrine

Users and schematics for the award-winning IDE Easy Latrine. Photos courtesy Jeff Chapin and IDE Cambodia.

What do a consumer technology product, an ecologically responsible laundry detergent, and a simple design innovation for an age old product have in common? They were all selected as winners of the prestigious Best in Show Award at the 2010 IDEA Awards for international design excellence.

Latrines are a decidedly unsexy topic, more likely to induce uncomfortable giggles than provoke innovative thinking. People in the developed world take access to sanitation for granted. Yet in most of rural Cambodia, lack of adequate sanitation causes more deaths than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Despite this fact, many villagers view purchasing sanitation equipment as an unnecessary luxury, partly because of the expense and difficulty of installing traditional latrines.

Jeff Chapin, a designer on sabbatical from IDEO worked with our IDE Cambodia team to tackle the problem. The solution? A low-cost sanitation system that villagers could build themselves using cheap, locally available materials. Each latrine costs about $25, and more than 2,500 have already been purchased and installed by villagers.

The award judges appreciated the Easy Latrine’s integration of product design, social strategy, and sustainability. In the end, they decided that excellence in affordable technology deserved equal status with the other two winners, the Slingbox 700U and Method Laundry Detergent with Smartclean Technology™. Judge Anton Andrews, of FrontEDGE Experience Planning for Microsoft Entertainment, said, “We’re choosing all three because it’s a sustainability story. All three tell the same story from different angles. One is cloud computing, the other is behavioral change, and the third is applying design thinking at its best to an extreme problem in another part of the world.”  Industrial Designers Society of America’s Chief Executive Clive Roux explained, “Design works across the spectrum of human needs and issues and can produce excellence at both extremes.”

We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to Jeff Chapin and the entire IDE Cambodia team on this well-deserved recognition.

The Sanitation Marketing Pilot Program, from which the “Easy Latrine” design resulted, is funded by USAID Cambodia MSME and the Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank, and is implemented by IDE.

Learn more:

2010 IDEA Awards Gallery

Fast Company story

Best in Show judges video at

27 May 2010 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

IDE Wins First Nestlé CSV Prize

IDE Cambodia was awarded the first Nestlé Prize in Creating Shared Value for its Farm Business Advisors program today at an awards ceremony in London. Since its inception in 2005, the FBA program has enabled 60 rural Cambodian entrepreneurs to start small farm advisory businesses, which in turn have helped 4,500 small-scale farm households increase their net income by 27 percent or US $150.

The prize of 500,000 Swiss Francs (about $433,050) will improve the project by recruiting and training an additional 36 advisors, generating approximately US $1.9 million in new income to positively impact 20,000 people in more than 4,000 rural households across Cambodia.

Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who presented the award to the IDE, said: “We congratulate IDE Cambodia on being the first to be awarded the Prize. The work they do is inspirational. The support and training from IDE ensures that all involved work together to create sustainable farming enterprises.”

Accepting the award, IDE Cambodia Country Director Michael Roberts said, “It is an honor to receive this recognition from Nestlé. The prize will help us further IDE’s mission to create income opportunities for poor rural households. We hope to leverage the Prize to reach more than 75,000 rural Cambodian households in the next few years. On a global scale this is still very small but we think there are big implications in what we are learning.”

The CSV Prize – which received more than 500 applications from 79 countries – was awarded during Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value Forum, an international gathering of leading experts in water, nutrition, rural development, and the role of business in society which took place in London on 27 May. The Prize was created to provide financial support of up to 500,000 Swiss Francs to individuals, NGOs, or small enterprises who offer innovative solutions to nutritional deficiencies, access to clean water, or progress in rural development. The prize money will be disbursed over a three-year period to assist in the scaling-up of the project.

Learn more about IDE’s Farm Business Advisor Program.

Watch Nestlé’s video on the award below.

16 April 2010 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

A New Growing Season

At the beginning of growing season 2009, we hosted a program called “Drip Kits for Donors” in which interested donors to IDE received, as a thank you gift, a version of our family nutrition kit which retails for $3-5 in the Asian countries where we work, and is designed to irrigate “kitchen gardens” of around 20 square meters in size. We had a lot of interest in the program here in Colorado and other states, but also from as far away as Mongolia where a Peace Corps volunteer wanted to test drip irrigation on tomatoes at a friend’s greenhouse in Muron, Khovsgul Aimag where she serves as a business advisor. In fact, our Mongolian Peace Corps Volunteer got the last kit we had in stock here in Denver.

It’s clear that we received so much interest in this initiative as a result of what can be fairly termed a snowball effect occurring in vegetable gardening and small-scale urban farming over the last couple seasons here in the developed world.

On a project level, this year we’re hearing from even more individuals and orgs interested in collaborations with us, whether they be small NGOs in African villages working on entrepreneurship education, foundations in Asia promoting best practices in “Bottom of the Pyramid” BOP design, or larger agricultural concerns looking to give back to the developing countries they source from by supporting more sustainable income generation models we at IDE specialize in.

From this desk, I can definitely say that awareness of, and interest in, our work and model has grown exponentially from last year. The emails and phone calls are streaming in.

So, as a small inspiration for the fast-approaching gardening season here in the US, see below for a few photos from last season showing the grassroots nature of the support for our model of development — from the mountains of Colorado to the Mongolian steppe.

IDE donors at Willow Creek Church in suburban Chicago set up an annual exhibit highlighting agricultural work in Africa.

Tim and Mary Taylor's elk proof, IDE drip-irrigated vegetable beds in the Colorado Mountains

Nick Gruber of Produce Denver packs up some harvested crops grown with IDE drip irrigation for his urban CSA.

Produce Denver's James Hale fills an IDE header bag

Produce Denver's James Hale fills an IDE header bag in the front yard of a client who has given over land to their urban CSA.

11 January 2010 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Securing the Prosperity of Nations

To start IDE’s blog on an inspirational note for 2010, we give you an excerpt below from an analytic essay written by IDE’s founder, Paul Polak along with Peggy Reid and Amy Schefer for the forthcoming special edition of Innovations Journal, “Tech4Society: A Celebration of Ashoka-Lemelson Fellows” to accompany a live conference in Hyderabad, India next month.

It seems self-evident that we should care about helping 2.4 billion people raise themselves out of poverty. But really, why should we? Most of us working in the field of development fall into that fortunate few: the richest 10 percent of people in the world. Is it altruism alone that motivates us to care about the fates of billions of individuals whose lives we know relatively little about? For some of us, perhaps. But for most, recent history has made it painfully evident that the fates of all nations are connected. As economic institutions and markets have become ever more globally linked, the peace and security of our nation and of all nations are inextricably interwoven. And the widening gaps between the “haves”and the “have nots” are not simply morally questionable—they also lead to greater violence and instability and further economic stagnation. As President Barack Obama cautioned the world in his Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo, Norway,“Security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive.”

As we slowly recover from the worst economic downturn in nearly a century, we would be wise not to ignore the spectacular opportunities to create jobs and profits and to spur more rapid economic growth by giving birth to dozens of Henry Ford sized new markets that serve 90 percent of the world’s customers. By investing in income-generating enterprises that provide access to basic human needs, we are investing not only in prosperity but also in education, health, and greater global security.

The strategies to get there are surprisingly simple. We need to start by recognizing the enormous market opportunity to create products and services that 90 percent of the world will pay for instead of limiting ourselves to 10 percent of the world’s customers. We need to start treating the poorest of the poor as customers, not as charity cases. We need to listen to those customers to understand their biggest, most pressing needs and build simple, affordable solutions; ones that can be easily maintained and which create profitable businesses for local entrepreneurs. And we need to do so by relying on business models that offer attractive profits to companies and commercial rates of return to investors. Most importantly, we need to galvanize and embrace the self-interest and enterprising spirit inherent in all of us—companies, investors, and poor people.

The most effective way to reach the world’s poorest people and to give them the chance to generate wealth and lift themselves out of poverty is to energize market forces, those same forces that have fueled enormous wealth creation in developed nations for generations.

The time to begin is now.

– Paul Polak, Peggy Reid, and Amy Schefer

22 December 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

IDE’s “Invisible Hand” a Success

Chuck Plunkett of the Denver Post writes in the Paper’s 20 Dec 09 edition…

“Without doubt, it has been a bad year for capitalism.

In the smoldering ashes of last fall’s Wall Street meltdown, the free-market system that has been as much a part of America’s foundation as our concept of democracy itself has looked to large segments of the population like a perpetual 1928-era crash waiting to happen.

Those who seek to enrich themselves are seen as greedy and destructive.

Government assistance is the new cool.

But in this holiday season, when many Americans are adding charitable organizations to their gift lists, a newly strengthening movement aimed at reducing world poverty ought to challenge the doubters and the haters.”

IDE is the key originator of that movement, and Plunkett judges our method a success amid the gloom.

21 November 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Dispatch from Zambia

The Sakala children with their harvest

Zambia’s rainy season began last week. Maize, tomatoes, and watermelon are being harvested now from Lusaka north to Copperbelt province where IDE trains several farmer groups in best agronomic practices. Tomato prices are down this month, but watermelon are now fetching high prices at market. A couple photos here show some harvest from the Sakala family farm on 20 November 09 outside Kabwe in Central Province. The Sakalas have wisely hedged, planting both tomatoes and watermelon, and Mr. Sakala has an additional field of tomatoes which are timed to harvest in December when tomato demand will be much higher.

Bennett of IDE Zambia helps Harrison Sakala load produce to take to market.

22 October 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

IDE Wins 2009 AGFUND Prize

IDE is extremely pleased to announce that we have been awarded the 2009 AGFUND Prize (First Category) from The Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) for successful implementation of our PRISM method in ten developing countries. The Prize has been awarded annually since 1999.

Below is text from AGFUND’s official announcement in Istanbul.

The Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) announced the winning projects of its International Prize for Pioneering Development Projects, 2009, in the field of Development of Agriculture through Technology, at its meeting, which was held under the chairmanship of HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, AGFUND President, on 14 October 2009, in Istanbul.

The Prize Committee approved three winning projects from among 39 projects from 33 countries on four continents:

The First Category Prize: allocated for “The role of international organizations in supporting the developing countries’ national policies and programs to improve agricultural output through adoption of innovative technology solutions” was won by PRISM (Prosperity Realized Through Irrigation and Smallholder Markets), implemented by IDE – International Development Enterprises in 10 developing countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Nicaragua.

The AGFUND International Prize is not only a developmental tool for highlighting successful examples and their propagation among peoples, but is also an instance of developmental support introduced by the Arab Gulf Program. The organization of the prize ensures the funds allocated are utilized to further develop winning projects, and to increase the beneficiary categories.

The AGFUND International Prize Committee membership is comprised of a number of renowned world figures, namely: Mrs. Mercedes Menafra de Batly, former First Lady of Uruguay, President of the All for Uruguay Foundation; Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne MEP, Vice President, Foreign Affairs Committee, European Parliment; Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, President of the Islamic Development Bank Group, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Founder and Managing Director of Grameen Bank; Dr. Y. Seyyid Abdulai, former Director General of the OPEC Fund for International Development.

15 June 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

Drip Irrigation for Donors

Since April, we’ve been offering a “Family Nutrition Kit” as a thank you to anyone who has donated $40 or more in support of our Affordable Technologies Initiative. These gravity-fed drip irrigation kits cover 20 square meters (the size of a typical kitchen garden), and their header bags are made from recycled sacking material. In Asia they retail for around $5 USD, and can be easily adapted to various intensive row and mound produce growing techniques.

So, with the upsurge in the Northern Hemisphere’s interest in sustainable, urban, and other small-scale agriculture, we thought we’d get a little spillover curiosity in a kind of reverse technology transfer. That turned out to be an understatement. We have just sold out of our kit supply here in Denver, and there are now 44 new small-scale farmers in our network using drip irrigation. Most are here in the US, but we’ve sent kits as far as France and even to a Peace Corps volunteer who will be doing experimental drip with farmer friends in the grassland steppe of Northern Mongolia.

Among several individuals here in Denver, an urban farming company, Produce Denver, is now using our systems in various restaurant rooftop gardens, greenhouses, and front yards given over to vegetable crops for an urban CSA they offer. So, if you happen to find yourself at a Denver restaurant famed for its commitment to using fresh, local ingredients this season, there’s a chance you’ll be dining on local produce grown with IDE drip irrigation.

Needless to say, this response—this connection from local to global, back to local again—has me very excited for the growing season. Aside from the obvious benefit to people’s gardens in our industrialized part of the world, I’m hoping the recipients of these donor kits will also gain a better understanding of what it takes to make a living off the land. Even with drip irrigation, it’s a lot of consistent hard work and determination.

We’ll be checking in with our local farmers throughout the season, posting photos and reports here. And, stay tuned for tasting reports on heirloom melons, squash blossoms, Roman radicchios and other “high value” crops from my own IDE drip-irrigated garden.

— A.G. Vermouth, IDE Director of Communications

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