Lorelei Goodyear is a senior program officer at PATH and a committed advocate for women’s health. Her work on PATH’s Healthy Households Initiative empowers women through entrepreneurship that enables their communities to live healthier lives. Lorelei, and the women reached through this project, truly know how to #MakeItHappen. This post was originally featured on the DefeatDD blog.
My whole career has focused on increasing options for women and girls so that they can achieve their full potential. I have focused primarily on reproductive health because deciding if and when to become a mother is such a pivotal point in a woman’s life. Eight years ago, I became a mother and took on a new role leading PATH’s research and evaluation on safe water technologies. I quickly learned that diarrhea caused by unsafe water is a leading killer of children and safe water plays a crucial role in maternal and child health.
There are many effective water treatment methods, but getting people to use them is a big challenge. After experimenting with a variety of market models, we had the best results (highest rates of adoption) by training local entrepreneurs to sell water filters in their communities and providing consumer loans that made filters affordable through small payments over time. In nine months, we tripled the use of water filters in a community in Cambodia. We tested the same approach with latrines, and Cambodian customers were four times more likely to buy them when offered a loan.
For our Healthy Household Initiative (HHI), we built on this success and added clean cookstoves and solarlights (to reduce indoor air pollution that contributes to respiratory illnesses). By selling a product bundle, homes would become healthier and social entrepreneurs would have an incentive (profits) to sustain and scale up without relying on donor support.