Chlorine Dispensers: Bringing Safe Water to Scale (Innovations for Poverty Action, USAID DIV WASH grant)


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Chlorine Dispensers: Bringing Safe Water to Scale (Innovations for Poverty Action, USAID DIV WASH grant)

Dear all,

Today, I am introducing another grant which stems from a partnership that USAID has with the Gates Foundation. It was funded via the Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) competition, which I have explained further here:

Title of grant: Chlorine Dispensers: Bringing Safe Water to Scale
  • Name of lead organization: Innovations for Poverty Action
  • Primary contact at lead organization: Ms. Annie Duflo, Executive Director Innovations for Poverty Action, New Haven, USA
  • Grantee location: New Haven, USA
  • Developing country where the research is being tested: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, others to be determined
  • Start and end date: 20 June 2012 – 15 January 2016
  • Grant type: Collaboration between BMGF and USAID Development Innovations Ventures (DIV)
  • Grant size: USD 7,416,557

Short description of the project:

The project aims to scale the Chlorine Dispenser System in an effort to significantly reduce the burden of diarrheal diseases. Treating drinking water with dilute chlorine reduces diarrhea by an average of 29%, yet household adoption remains low. Dispensers have been shown to boost adoption of water treatment from less than 10% to almost 60% in randomized controlled trials. Dispensers are also extremely cost-effective, as providing a bulk supply of chlorine reduces packaging costs. At scale, costs could be less than $0.30 per person served per year, with a cost per disability adjusted life year (DALY) saved of $20-30. IPA has been implementing Dispensers in Kenya for some time, and hopes to expand their success to other countries in the East Africa region.


The overall project goal is improved survival and health status of children in target populations by reducing under-five morbidity and mortality from diarrhea.


1) reduce incidence of childhood diarrhea by at least 20 percent in target regions where dispensers are implemented and
2) establish Dispensers as an innovative, proven, low-cost approach to water treatment that can be scaled in multiple countries.

The project will focus on providing 5 million people across several countries with access to chlorine via cost effective, sustainable Dispenser programs and increasing adoption. The project will also disseminate project results and continue to refine operations.

Research or implementation partners: Not provided

Links, further readings – results to date:
Current state of affairs:

Taken from their website (

  • Currently serves more than 4.1 million people.
  • Aims to reach 25 million by 2018.
  • Active in Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda.
  • Includes a sustainable water service: Dispenser hardware, community education, and a regular supply of chlorine.
  • Ongoing maintenance is provided by an elected community ‘promoter’ who encourages use of the dispenser, reports any problems, and refills the dispenser with chlorine.
  • Usage and functionality of all dispensers is closely monitored by Evidence Action field workers who deliver chlorine on motor bikes, and track issues with mobile phones.
Biggest successes so far: Not available

Main challenges / frustration: Not available

My next step will be to contact the researchers and ask them for more up to date information. If you have questions for them about this grant, please put them into this thread.

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Freelance consultant on environmental and climate projects
Located in Ulm, Germany
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