Project Lead(s): Sarah Tranum
Over 780 million people lack access to clean water. Many of the available solutions for purifying water are expensive, and/or rely on technology that does not reflect the needs and challenges of the users who would most benefit.
There is a clear need to develop an affordable, more accessible solution to cleaning drinking water at the household level.
The object of the CleanCube Project was to determine the feasibility of their water purifying solution as a sustainable and scalable approach.
Currently, at the prototype stage, the CleanCube product is a dissolvable cube made of natural, plant-based material that can be added to stored drinking water to kill 100% of E. coli bacteria.
The product is part of a larger system that includes small-batch production, community-based education, alternative marketing and distribution strategies, and appropriate pricing.
The team first conducted lab testing of common, native plants that eliminate bacteria. Through a series of rigorous, repeated tests, plants were identified that effectively eliminate E. coli and inhibit further bacteria growth in water at various concentration levels and time intervals.
Over the course of the project, free health camps for women and children, community education events, women’s training, community consultations, income generation and empowerment opportunities, as well as other community-based initiatives, have had an impact on an estimated 500 residents of the pilot community. The most direct and intense impact was on the 15 women who participated in the small-batch production groups for the CleanCube units, who earned enough to supplement their family income by 30–50%.
By creating and testing community education events, the CleanCube team observed the effectiveness of this local intervention in teaching water health and also in promoting the CleanCube brand.
The last critical piece of CleanCube’s system design model was the distribution strategy of the product. The CleanCube team developed a clear understanding of conventional distribution channels in local markets, and the door-to-door ‘Ambassador’ model that was developed and prototyped was seen to hold the most potential for sales among CleanCube’s target customers. The Ambassador model (women one-on-one or in small groups of family and friends) offers income-generation opportunities and empowerment to local women.
The next step for the CleanCube Project will be to secure research funding to continue lab testing, in order to determine the minimum amount of plant material required over the shortest timeframe necessary to eliminate bacteria in water, and for the project to move towards commercialization.
With second phase funding in place, the project aims to introduce community-based education, small-batch training and production, and distribution activities in other communities in India.
The team intend to seek investment from India- and Canadian-based funders, and to apply for Transition To Scale (TTS) funding to support product development and full project market launch.