Real world research in product evaluation and sustainabable development to reach scale Murcott, Susan; Asher, Jeff; Frey, Dan; Goentzel, Jarrod; Green, Jennifer; Sanyal, Bish
Low-income consumers aspire to a better life that humanitarian products offer. International aid agencies, non-governmental organizations, governments and social entrepreneurs promote and disseminate millions of products to alleviate poverty. But many of these products fail to deliver -- either to perform consistently, or if they survive in the marketplace, they fail to reach scale. Preconditions to impact, sustained use and scale are rigorous product evaluations that are trusted, affordable and comprehensible. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launched the Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation (MIT-CITE), a five-year USAID-funded project to develop a methodology, called the “3S’s” which has guided the 2014 CITE Household Water Filter (HWF) Evaluation in Ahmedabad, India. Three expert sub-groups investigated different dimensions of the HWF product ecosystem: • Suitability (S1) Team • S1-Lab: Technical Performance at Consumer Reports in Yonkers, New York. • S1-India: Technical Performance of water filters in Ahmedabad, India households • Scalability Team – evaluation of the commercial HWF product supply chain and capacity to scale up in India based on availability, affordability and aftermarket indicators. • Sustainability Team – integrating social, economic, behavioral and product usability criteria. Findings and Lessons Learned: CITE developed a decision support tool for users and institutional purchasers of HWF products targeted to low-income consumers. Using a methodology patterned after Consumer Reports, we have done a comparative, multi-objective evaluation of more than 100+ HWF products in Ahmedabad. Results cover three product categories: particle removal filters, gravity non-electric water filters and reverse osmosis systems. Findings are discussed.
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