WASH for Life - USAID & Gates Foundation


WASH for Life - USAID & Gates Foundation


APS No: M/OAA/ GRO/LMA/11-02000


To support promising new approaches in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene sector, USAID's Development Innovation Ventures, with co-funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has launched WASH for Life (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene for Life). DIV will utilize this $17 million partnership to identify, test, and transition to scale promising approaches to achieving cost-effective, sustained, scalable water, sanitation, and health (WASH) services in developing countries.




Water, sanitation, and hygiene are all critical to reducing the burden of water-borne diseases. One Millennium Development Goal (MDG) aims to cut in half the number of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015. But efforts are off track by up to 700 million people. 1.2 billion people practice open defecation, meaning they have no sanitation facilities at all, and 1.3 billion people use unsafe latrines. Even though researchers estimate that effective sanitation services alone can reduce diarrheal disease by up to 45 percent, 1.6 million children still die each year from diarrheal disease. Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under the age of five. Only roughly 10 percent of all government and donor funds dedicated to water, sanitation, and hygiene improvements are focused on sanitation. Where there are investments, they tend to be in large infrastructure projects that serve non-impoverished areas. And often infrastructure is not well maintained.


The government and markets have failed to date in reaching the economically disadvantaged in a sustainable, at scale and effective manner but these failures can be overcome by competing innovative and cost-effective approaches from diverse partners, testing projects rigorously, and scaling and replicating those that are proven successful. Through WASH for Life, USAID/DIV explicitly seeks to support new, promising approaches with the aim to help produce health outcomes more effectively and more cost-efficiently for people in developing countries. WASH for Life will focus not on basic research for new technologies, but rather on ways to increase sustained uptake of behaviors for which there is demonstrated evidence of impacts. It is expected that these promising approaches will be innovative, in that they will often involve new applications of technologies, new business practices, new ways to deliver services, behavior change messaging, and financial and institutional arrangements and processes, with the potential to deliver significant, rather than incremental, improvements in producing cost-effective development outcomes at scale.


Projects suitable for USAID/DIV funding under WASH for Life will demonstrate:


Problem identification - correcting market and government failures.


Ineffective service delivery through both markets and governments can lead to poor outcomes for marginal groups, wastage, and unintended consequences. Proposals must address the potential for addressing these sorts of failures and how the proposed approach creates incentives for these failures to be avoided and/or easily detected.


Cost Effectiveness - Projects should demonstrate cost-effectiveness in a rigorous and measurable way. Projects must achieve more development outcomes per dollar spent than the standard project targeting those development outcomes, or the same development outcomes as an alternative project, but at a smaller cost.


Sustainability and Scale - This call is open to a variety of approaches to sustainability, including both public and private sector finance, but USAID/DIV will support approaches especially if there is reason to believe proposed adopters will pay and that services will reach people who need it. New approaches should be scalable and replicable, with the potential to reach millions of people in 10 years as they are adopted to scale across multiple countries, ideally across multiple WASH sectors, or in developing country health more broadly.


Although applications addressing all WASH areas are welcome; examples, intended to be illustrative not comprehensive, of the types of projects that could be funded in this call could include:


1.                 endowment funds for infrastructure maintenance;


2.                 trust funds that provide long run rewards and create incentives for high quality construction;


3.           new approaches to WASH finance such as output-based funding and cash on delivery for key WASH outcomes;


4.                 new approaches for sanitation demand creation and sanitation marketing;


5.              district-level contracting for operations and maintenance, with a potential focus on schools as a focal point for service delivery;


6.                 point-of-collection water treatment;


7.           behavior change approaches drawing on insights from psychology and behavioral economics; and


8.                 new approaches to influence social norm setting around WASH.




Under this Special Window, USAID/DIV seeks out proposals that test and transition to scale approaches to achieving cost-effective, sustained, scalable changes to significantly improve the lives of the impoverished. Although projects addressing problems in any WASH area or any country may apply, USAID/DIV will also have additional resources available for interventions that:

  1. Operate in the following priority countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya and/or Nigeria;
  2. Address issues in the sanitation and hygiene sectors in particular; and
  3. Target beneficiaries earning under $2 a day (PPP adjusted).

Application Instructions and deadline -


Applicants are requested to submit proposals electronically to the Agreement Specialist at using the application forms found at For information regarding guidelines and procedures to submit a proposal, please refer to Sections 3 and 4 of the DIV APS which can be found at the following website:


The deadline for applications is 15 October 2011

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