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Market Based Solutions to Safe Drinking Water: Approaches and Constraints

Universal access to safe drinking water still remains a goal to be achieved in India. In spite o huge spending on development of water infrastructure, we have not been able to arrest the spread of water borne diseases. The constraints faced by the state Governments in supplying safe drinking water to their citizens and ever increasing demand for drinking water is paving the way for private players. Rural India with the concentration of a large percentage of population and limited infrastructure faces serious problems in terms of availability of safe drinking water. In this scenario, low cost water purifiers produced by companies are making their inroads into villages either through regular channels or through non-government organisations. Further, some companies are setting up their own foundations, which propagate business models, selling safe drinking water profitably. This article looks into such market based solutions and analyses their strengths and weaknesses. It elaborates on the challenges faced by marketers, while selling water purifiers or safe water to large number of rural consumers. Finally, it suggests that marketers need to sell the concept of safe water, change the behaviour of consumers, and focus on products or services which are acceptable, affordable, and available continuously.