CITE’s household water filter evaluation allowed us to study innovations with the potential to better the lives of India’s “water poor”—the 76 million people in the country who lack improved drinking water.
CITE teams studied over 100 models of householder water filters from nine major brands available on the market in Ahmedabad, India. These models fell into three main categories: conventional particle filtration (cloth/jali mesh), gravity non-electric filters, and reverse osmosis filters.
In Ahmedabad, MIT students and researchers worked closely with students from local Indian universities to conduct the evaluation. Another student team spent the summer in the Consumer Reports labs in Yonkers, New York conducting lab tests of the same models being tested in the field.
CITE used multi-criteria analysis and Consumer Reports-style rating charts to guide its water filter evaluation report, which was released in October 2015.
- Cloth and jali filters are cheap and common among low-income users, but are not effective in reducing E.coli, or turbidity.
- Gravity non-electric filters are moderately priced and far more effective than cloth filters at reducing E.coli and turbidity.
- Reverse osmosis is a popular type of water filter system perceived as the best, but most of these systems are not an affordable option for the poor. Moreover, these filters generate wastewater at rates triples that of the clean water they produce—a negative environmental impact in a water scarce region.
- Postponed assembly at the retail level for certain water filter products can be very effective in scaling the supply chain. The locally branded “Dolphin” reverse osmosis water filters assembled by the distributors and retailers are promising from a scalability perspective.
- Water filters offer a good retail entrepreneurial opportunity since the assembly process is straightforward and requires few technical skills.
- A low-priced water filter is not sufficient for reaching rural populations. The more affordable gravity non-electric models are not readily available in rural areas, where they may be needed most.
- Water filter use seems to be dependent on use of water filters in the past and peer effects. This suggests that sustainable water use may be better suited to community- and neighborhood- scale interventions, rather than market interventions, at least in the short-run.
- A majority of water filter purchasing decisions were influenced by the buyer’s close network, most often a family member.
- Knowledge about household water filters designed for the bottom of the pyramid is low among that market segment. Technology adoption proves difficult when one’s peers do not have knowledge about a particular product.
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Stay tuned for the release of CITE's water filter evaluation report next Tuesday, October 6.
InCITE April News is out! Read about some of the early findings from our water filter evaluation and more here.
We're delighted to share a new video on CITE's water filter evaluation work in India. Watch it here!
Join us Saturday, May 2 for a talk with CITE's Susan Murcott on our water filter evaluation in India. More information here.
CITE's Susan Murcott shares early findings from our water filter evaluation in India in our latest blog.
We just posted some great new photos of the CITE team working at Consumer Reports Labs on our water filter evaluation on our Facebook page!
Don't miss it! Tomorrow, 7:30pm in 4-237, CITE gives a sneak peek of its water filter evaluation research.
Sydney Beasley, Timothy Breitbach, Derek Brine, Corinne Carland, Daniel Frey, Jennifer Green, Jarrod Goentzel, Steven Graves, Allison Hanson, Jason Knutson, Shuyue Liu, Maia Majumder, Susan Murcott, Christine Pilcavage, Erin Reissman, Bishwapriya Sanyal, Jonars Spielberg, Jenny Tanphanich, Tamanna Urmi, Jack Whipple, Teng Ke Wong, Yiyue Zhang, Linda Annala, Jeff Asher, and Vihar Parikh
The evaluation could not have taken place without the dedicated effort and extraordinary enthusiasm of a large group of student collaborators and their faculty mentors from Ahmedabad and Delhi, including:
IIT-Gandhinagar: Akshay Jain, Shrikant Brahmbhatt, Lavdeep Kaur, Hema Choudhary, Pankaj Gautam, Mahesh Kumar, Abhishek Soni, Rajneesh Misra, Ashish Kumar Sehra, Darshil Chouhan, Chinmay Ajnadkar, plus faculty Arnab Sarkar, Chinmay Ghoroi, and Hiran Vedam.
IIM-Ahmedabad: Eshita.P.Dayani, Ashish Ranjan , Siddharth Seth, plus professors and administrators: Ankur Sarin, Cdr. Manoj Bhatt (Retired), Mr. Bhattacharya, and Anil Gupta.
TERI-Delhi: Sonal Bindal, Nidhi Jha and their professor: Chander Singh. Ahmedabad University: Devina Sarwatay, Surbhi Mistry, Jalangi Shah, Netra Pathak, Mohana Saraf, Anand Kotadiya, Vishvesh Busa, and their professors Mitaxi Mehta and Saumil Shah.
Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University: Meghal Arya, Dinesh Mehta, and Meera Mehta.
All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI): Mihir Bhatt. Other partners: Viswanathan Paramu and Alay Patel.