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Desalinating the Southern Delta: New Model to Reshape Water Purification Business for Good

By LightCastle Analytics Wing

The Opportunity

High water salinity is a serious concern in Southern Bangladesh. Since 2010, GIZ Bangladesh, in association with German Association, has collaborated with Bangladesh Government’s Sustainable & Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) built 122 solar-powered clean water technologies to cater to safe water needs for the peri-urban and rural population across the Southern Delta. However, to ensure sustainability, multiple business models require exploration and the ones that are most viable need implementation.

Our Approach

Enter LightCastle (LCP) to support GIZ’s noble endeavor. The work was divided into two phases. LCP chose 5 sites – Barguna, Pirojpur, Satkhira, Khulna and Barisal – to conduct in-depth market studies, gauging business potential and optimizing models, customized for each region. Variables such as income, proximity from homes, prevalence of institutional buyers among others gave vital cues with respect to shortlisting business models. Based on market data in combination with technical competence of three different technologies (pond water filtration, ground water and de-salination), LCP primarily selected seven world-proven models and after a through cost-benefit analysis of each, recommended 3 models (micro-entrepreneurship, NGO and CBO) for pilot implantation across nine sites in three regions.

Running for one year, in phase 2, the assignment took on a more action-oriented approach. Albeit expensive, de-salination technology rendered the purest form of water and, therefore, garnered the greatest demand. But to be able to sustain this expensive setup, a continuous and effective forward supply chain needed to be established. This led LCP to continuously engage with multi-level stakeholders ranging from public institutions to water technology partners to local organizations. Leveraging data points, LCP set up water ATMs at dispensing sites for price optimization. Furthermore, LCP employed water agents for mobile delivery, built capacity, carried out promotional campaigns, created forward market linkages and maintained financial records to evaluate project effectiveness.

The Future

Based on initial results, the micro-entrepreneurship model looks to hold the most potential. Practical challenges constrained effectiveness of NGO and CBO model.