The Lao Tipping Point Environmental Sciences Essay

Water is the kernel of life. Two-thirdss of our organic structure and three-quarterss of our encephalon are comprised of H2O. Losing 20 % of organic structure H2O can do decease. It is possible to last for several hebdomads without nutrient but without H2O one can non last for more than a few yearss. All human existences recognize the importance of H2O to prolong life. This survey will assist suppliers and manufacturers of locally made Silver Infused Ceramic Filters ( SCF ‘s ) – particularly those identified as societal concerns utilizing a commercial attack – make full the cognition spread between the end-user in the consumption of new engineering in order to implement effectual schemes ( in disseminating, educating, advancing and selling ) to cut down water-borne diseases.

On July 28th, 2010 the United Nations Sixty-fourth General Assembly passed a declaration acknowledging entree to clean H2O and sanitation as a cardinal human right. In that same declaration was expressed concern for the 884 million people missing entree to safe imbibing H2O and more than 2.6 billion without entree to basic sanitation. Even more alarming was the world that 1.5 million kids under five old ages old die each twelvemonth as a consequence of H2O and sanitation related diseases ( UN Press Release ) . The deficiency of entree to clean H2O is an epidemic of planetary proportions go forthing the developing states and its marginalized people ‘s most vulnerable.

The state of Laos, being Southeast Asia ‘s least developed state, is no exclusion to the H2O crisis. The Lao People ‘s Democratic Republic, or Lao PDR, is endowed with over 60,000 three-dimensional metres of fresh H2O per capita, yet merely 57 % of the population has entree to improved imbibing H2O ( Earth Trend Country Profile, 2002 ) . Of the 6.5 million people throughout the 16 states of Laos, most rely on natural surface H2O beginnings such as rivers, watercourses and pools for family usage and imbibing. Other beginnings include rain H2O and shoal Wellss. Both surface H2O beginnings and shallow Wellss are about ever contaminated by worlds and animate beings. Larger municipalities, such as provincial and territory towns, have piped H2O systems but H2O is still frequently contaminated during conveyance to or within the place. Piped H2O is besides perceived by the terminal user as undrinkable. ( WHO, 2007 )

In the last few decennaries new low-priced engineerings in Point of Use Water Treatment and Storage Systems ( POUs ) have emerged to run into the turning crisis of insecure H2O – one of which is the Silver-infused Ceramic Filter ( SCF ) . The SCF is said to be the ideal signifier of H2O intervention for both rural and urban users. Families are offered the ability to handle their primary H2O beginning at the topographic point most likely for re-contamination – inside the place at the point of ingestion. Yet the SCF has merely late been introduced into the Lao market and consumption has been restricted to a few hundred families in cardinal and southern Laos, largely in portion due to a deficiency of supply. These are the first SCF ‘s introduced through a commercial attack – whereby some or all of the costs of bring forthing, selling, and administering the merchandises are covered by the purchase monetary value and paid for by the client.

The globalisation of expertness, cognition and engineering has created new schemes for practicians of development peculiarly in the countries of societal concern. Using the market as a vehicle for development the end is that consumers invest in their ain wellness and supports. Commercial attacks to the airing of traditionally subsidized merchandises are a comparatively new thought, so there are limited instance surveies and even fewer success narratives. As a consequence at that place remains a important cognition spread in the Lao context between the manufacturers / suppliers of POUs and the end-user. What are the motives associated with consumption and how does one efficaciously capitalise on those values in order to profit all parties?

In Malcolm Gladwell ‘s 2000 best marketer, The Tipping Point: How Small Thingss Can Make a Big Difference, he uses a medical term to depict a societal phenomenon. The ‘Tipping Point ‘ is “ the name given to that one dramatic minute in an epidemic when everything can alter all at one time ” ( Gladwell, 2000 ) . It is the minute of critical mass, the brink, or the boiling point in which an thought or engineering is received and disseminated. In this instance the engineering is related to the kernel of life, clean H2O. So what is the Lao Tipping Point in the consumption of the Silver-infused Ceramic Filter?

1.2 Problem Statement

“ Diarrhea is the 2nd most of import cause of the decease of kids

below the age of fiveaˆ¦the deficiency of entree to imbibing H2O kills more kids yearly than AIDS, malaria and rubeolas combined. ”

– Ambassador Pablo Solon of Bolivia before the General Assembly of the UN, July 28th, 2010 ( UN Press Release ) .

The widespread airing of SCF ‘s should hold a important impact in the decrease of diarrheal and water-borne diseases in the Lao P.D.R. But in order to accomplish such graduated table a systematic attack to understanding the most effectual point of user consumption must be attempted. This survey hopes to depict and understand the first of all time effort to convey low cost, locally-made and scalable SCF ‘s to Laos via the private sector.

Diarrhea, a preventable water-borne disease, remains a major cause of child mortality in the Lao P.D.R. The under-five mortality rate is 98 per 1,000 unrecorded births with rural countries being much higher ( UNDP, 2008 ) . This high mortality rate coupled with a low life anticipation of 56 old ages reflects the insufficiency of overall wellness conditions in the state ( CIA, 2009 ) . Diarrhea, being the most prevailing, along with cholera, hepatitis, and enteric parasites are wholly listed as of import catching diseases. These water-borne diseases are straight linked to the presence of bugs, bacteriums and Protozoa. They are most normally transmitted by the fecal-oral path which is accordingly linked to hapless sanitation, H2O quality, hygienic pattern, and unequal measures of clean H2O.

Both rural and urban users are at hazard for taint. The urban public, which constitutes for merely 25 % of the entire population, serves as a kind of theoretical account of development for the balance of the state as the majority of resources and new engineerings are introduced in provincial towns before traveling out to rural countries. Yet even urban users are susceptible to taint as they drink from beginnings such as hand-dug Wellss located in high denseness forms and in propinquity to latrines, infected, and sewer systems.

Several options are available with each one holding its restrictions. Where available those who can afford it buy 20-liter bottles of pre-filtered H2O. Yet there are obvious drawbacks as this method is comparatively expensive and geographically limited. Seventy-five per centum of the Lao population is rural and outside of the 20-liter service countries. Boiling is an effectual method of handling biologically contaminated H2O every bit long as clip, energy, and resources are available. Unfortunately, these three factors are restricting and many choose to imbibe natural H2O and non to boil at all due to clip and environmental restraints.

A 2007 published paper by the WHO states, “ A turning organic structure of research suggests household H2O intervention and safe storage ( HWTS ) : dramatically improves microbic H2O quality, significantly reduces diarrhoea, is among the most effectual of H2O, sanitation and wellness intercessions, is extremely cost-efficient, [ and ] can be quickly deployed and taken up by vulnerable populations. ” ( WHO, 2007 )

Other claims by the United States Agency for International Development province ( USAID ) , “ Recent grounds suggests that point-of usage H2O quality betterments entirely result in a one-third or greater decrease in diarrhoeal disease morbidity. ” And, “ Several options for guaranting safe H2O quality are available, including POU chlorination ; combined flocculent bactericidal packages ; solar disinfection ; ceramic filters ; and others. ” ( USAID, 2006 )

The SCF, as developed and first applied in Latin America, is the filter of pick for many populations. Its low fabrication and care cost combined with a simple fabrication procedure make it ideal in the underdeveloped universe context. Lao ‘s neighbour, Cambodia has three ceramic filter mills. The International Development Enterprise ( IDE ) , Resource Development International of Cambodia ( RDIC ) , and the Cambodian Red Cross ( CRC ) have distributed a combined sum of over 350,000 filters. In less than ten old ages they have reached about 10 per centum of the state ‘s family ( Heierli, 2008, p. 57 ) . All the mills in Cambodia sell their filters for 8-10 USD. Cambodia has seen comparative success in the consumption of the SCF, yet this engineering has merely late entered the market of the Lao P.D.R. through a individual societal concern. In the past merely little tonss ( numbering three to four thousand units ) of SCF ‘s have been imported by NGO ‘s such as Concern Worldwide, Health Unlimited, and others, to be distributed either freely or through subsidisation. Lessons learnt from the experiences in Cambodia can be a valuable plus in the market-based airing of SCF ‘s in the Lao context.

Point of usage H2O intervention and storage systems ( POUs ) is a recent phenomenon in the Lao P.D.R. Significant additions have been made in the POU market, but none of it traveling beyond the urban market which constitutes for less than 25 % of the population. It can be hypothesized that the chief factors which may lend to the deficiency of acceptance of a new engineering in Laos ( specifically the SCF ) can be:

A behavioural alteration issue, where diarrhoea is non believed to be a water-borne disease and sanitation and hygiene is non imperative to wellness.

Preference to traditional methods, e.g. boiling.

Mistaken belief of the danger of low degree Ca carbonate / difficult H2O, which is prevailing in Laos due to the copiousness of underlying stone beds in cragged countries.

Skeptism of a new merchandise and uncertainty in its microbic effectivity.

Lack of authorities enfranchisement and indorsement of the merchandise.

Unwillingness to pay for the merchandise. The costs may be excessively high.

The unavailability of the merchandise to more distant countries of town.

One private societal concern in peculiar is trying, through a commercial-based attack, to present the ceramic filter engineering and do it acceptable, low-cost and accessible to the people of Laos. The WHO has set 3 trials a engineering must go through before it can accomplish important wellness impacts ( WHO, 2007 ) :

Technical effectivity

aˆ? Ability to take or demobilize pathogens

Consumer credence

aˆ? Availability of merchandise

aˆ? Costss

aˆ? Taste, lucidity, and safety of treated H2O


aˆ? Achieving widespread usage.

The SCF as focused in this survey is said to run into the 3 standards ‘ above. SCF ‘s have demonstrated a 99.99 % decrease of E.coli in the field and can supply up to 50 litres of clean H2O per twenty-four hours ( Lantagne 2008 ) . They are said to be low-cost, easy produced, and cover a broad scope of user conditions, yet the ability and willingness to pay for SCF ‘s is variable. What are the societal and economic indexs that contribute to user consumption? Both the research aims and inquiries in this survey are meant to supply valuable penetration into the issues of perceptual experience and consumption.

1.3 Research Objectives & A ; Research Questions

RO 1: To depict the usage of Silver-infused Ceramic Filters ( SCF ‘s ) at the House-hold ( HH ) degree.

RQ 1.1 What are the different methods of handling H2O and what are the available alternate POU engineerings on the HH degree?

RQ 1.2 What are the available SCF engineerings and why is it a bench-marking merchandise?

RQ 1.3 Who are the users of the SCF, how are fiscal resources allocated what is their socio-economic position?

RO 2: To understand consumer merchandise perceptual experience and grounds / motives for consumption.

RQ 2.2 What are the sensed and existent benefits of utilizing the SCF?

RQ 2.3 How has publicity & A ; selling influenced determination shapers in the purchase of a SCF?

RQ 2.3 What are the chief factors that contribute to non following the SCF?

1.4 Theoretical Model

Social Behavior Change

The focal point of this survey falls within the model of Social Behavior Change. There are several behavioural alteration theories that attempt to explicate the grounds behind changing human forms, taking into history environmental, cultural, personal and societal factors. In application to POU ‘s, there are three chief attacks ; Microbial, Behavioral and Ecological ( Figueroa & A ; Kincaid, 2010 ) . It is by and large recognized that more of import than merchandises and advanced engineerings is “ community mobilisation, societal selling and behaviour alteration, ” because “ aˆ¦the proviso of facilities/products must be accompanied by an extended behavioural alteration plan to excite acceptance and continued use by homeowners. ” ( Clasen, Tom, 2008 )

In the context of this survey the primary stakeholder, Terra Clear Development, has engaged in an intensive societal selling run for the SCF. The research hopes to place cardinal schemes and methods that are either effectual or uneffective in the consumption of SCF ‘s. In respects to the end-user, it is critical to understand the psycho-social factors of SCF uptake if graduated table is to be achieved.

1.4.1 Key Definitions

Social Business

Social concerns are distinguishable in that they are socially driven and non merely socially responsible ( as many major corporations have as a individual stray section ) . The primary driving force of a societal concern is the good of people and the stewardship of the environment, which remains cardinal to their operation. There are several definitions, but harmonizing to Professor Mohammad Yunnus, a Baronial Peace Prize victor for his work in open uping micro-financing, societal concern is defined by the undermentioned demands ( Yunus, 2008 ) :

Social Aims: wellness, instruction, poorness, environment or clime urgency.

Non-Profit Distribution: investors can non take net incomes out of the endeavor as dividends.

Others have referred to this as the Triple Bottom Line ; Peoples, Planet & A ; Profits ( Wikipedia ) .

Rather than maximising stockholder value, the chief purpose of societal concerns is to bring forth net income to foster their societal and or environmental ends. Its investors have a common vision and are looking for societal returns and non merely fiscal 1s. At the same clip a societal concern is sustained and expanded through bing market mechanisms, concentrating on profitableness, quality, and scalability. The host establishment, Terra Clear Development Ltd. ( TCD ) – officially known as Lao Water Resources Ltd. – positions itself as a societal concern with the end of supplying entree to clean H2O for all people. Net incomes received from services and merchandises are reinvested for enlargement and further societal benefits.

Point of Use Water Treatment and Storage System ( POUs )

Point of Use H2O treatmentA and safe storage refers to a “ assortment of differentA H2O treatmentA methods used to improveA H2O qualityA for an intended usage at the point of ingestion ” ( Wikipedia ) . POU ‘s are meant to be decentralized and offer little scale H2O intervention like on the family degree or in a little community. Its chief intent is to better H2O quality and this includes assorted engineerings.

Silver-Infused Ceramic Filter ( SCF )

The colloidal silver-infused ceramic filter ( SCF ) is a point-of-use system based on a ceramic pot filter. Each filter unit consists of a filter component, a receptacle, a spigot and palpebra. The receptacle can be made of ceramics, unstained steel or plastic, depending on local preferences-in the instance of Terra Clear Development, usage made nutrient class plastic is used. The filter component stuff is porous ceramics ( discharged clay ) , which gets its porousness by blending the clay with an organic burn-out stuff such as sawdust or rice chaffs. The mixture of clay and organic stuff is pressed into form and fired, go forthing a really all right pore construction that blocks bacteriums while leting H2O to ooze trough. To forestall re-growth of bacteriums in the filter, the discharged filters are coated with a colloidal Ag solution additive which acts as an antibacterial agent guaranting quality H2O.

The filters provide for remotion of micro-organisms from H2O by gravitation filtration. Pore size from 0.2I?m to 3I?m removes virtually all bacteriums and Protozoa by size exclusion. CSF ‘s are effectual for taking turbidness, coli signifiers, faecal contaminations, and E. coli from H2O. The filter can hive away up to 36 litres of clean H2O at any given clip. The ceramic component itself holds 9.9 litres of H2O, bring forthing drinkable H2O at a rate of 2 to 5 litres per hr. With 3 fillings a twenty-four hours, the filter can present over 50 litres of drinkable H2O per twenty-four hours which is sufficient for an mean household.

When used decently, these filters have proven to cut down E.coli index bacterium by 99.99 % . A 2006 independent field survey in Cambodia shows a average 98 % decrease for E.coli and 94 % for entire coli signifiers. Households utilizing the filter reported about half the instances of diarrhoea as matched control families without a filter ( Brown & A ; Sobsey, 2006 ) . CSF ‘s do non take chemical contaminations such as ; arsenic, fluoride and nitrate. Some contaminations, like arsenic, are frequently geographically clumped doing taint unlikely if used exterior of danger zones. Fortunately, there is a low prevalence of these contaminations throughout Laos ( Lao Water Resources, 2007 ) .


Percept is the “ procedure by which organisms interpret and form esthesis to bring forth a meaningful experience of the universe ” , defined finally by one ‘s ain experience of the universe ( Lindsay & A ; Norman, 1977 ) . In relation to H2O filters, the end is to pull out the sensed worlds as expressed by the single consumer. The inquiries will concentrate on the value of clean H2O and the perceived benefits based on the end-user ‘s personal cognition.


Uptake, in the concern sense, refers to the credence or acceptance of a new thought or merchandise ( Wikipedia ) . Successful filter uptake refers to the full procedure of acceptance ; get downing with determination devising, buying and utilizing. Those being interviewed must hold purchased filters at full retail monetary value and used the merchandise for more than one month, or one salary rhythm.


Dissemination can be described as distributing widely, “ as though seeding seedaˆ¦public exposure or diffusion ” ( Wikipedia ) . This implies the widespread cognition of an thought or merchandise. For illustration, even though the existent SCF may non be available yet in remote markets, successful airing would intend that there are people in those countries who want to have one. This is achieved by spread outing bing supply ironss or effectual societal selling runs through word-of-mouth or theoretical account users.

Figure 1.1

1.5 Methodology


Data will be gathered through semi-structured face-to-face interviews. The research will be qualitive in nature and inquiries will be open-ended leting for respondents to talk their ain words. The interview inquiries will follow the construction of the research inquiries, from general to specific.

Site Choice

The research will be carried out in the provincial town of Thakeak ( population 35,000 ) , Khammoune Province, in cardinal Laos. The bulk of Terra Clear Development ‘s gross revenues, selling, publicity, and instruction activities have taken topographic point here.

Data Collection

A sum of 20 families shall be interviewed. Ten HH ‘s will be chosen at random from a pool of identified HH ‘s that have purchased a SCF at full monetary value and have used the merchandise for at least three months. Three months of SCF usage ensures the passing of several salary rhythms but is near adequate to the day of the month of purchase to guarantee a clear memory. Interviews will be conducted with caputs of family, determined by the chief determination shaper in the purchase of the SCF.

The staying 10 interviews shall be with HH ‘s who have non purchased a SCF. These HH ‘s shall be identified by the first 10 HH ‘s that ain and use an SCF. For illustration, as a consequence of the initial interview with an SCF user, a neighbour who is a non-SCF user shall be identified, approached and interviewed every bit good.

An extra 2 interviews shall be conducted with the primary local stakeholder of the SCF, Terra Clear Development. As the chief manufacturer, supplier, and booster of the SCF, it is of import to understand the logic and effectivity of it ‘s ‘ schemes linked to research inquiry 2.3.

Datas Analysis

Data collected will be transcribed, placed into a matrix, coded and analyzed harmonizing to the research inquiries.

1.6 Scope & A ; Limitation

Scope of Research

Water-borne disease affects society on all degrees with distant countries holding the highest incidence. Yet the range of this research shall concentrate on the provincial town of Thakhek, a peri-urban environment reflecting the different strata ‘s of the socio-economic ladder. Peri-urban refers to the mixture of either both rural and urban elements, or a rural country “ instantly bordering an urban country ” , e.g. rice Fieldss can still be found in the border of town, behind the local gas station or the bank ( Wikitionary ) .

The foundation of this survey focuses on the consumer – whoever that may be. It is of import to observe that gross revenues in this part have merely begun since October of 2009, so all consumers so far autumn into the class of early adoptive parents or pioneers. In the text book, Diffusion of Innovations, Everett Rogers describes this group as, “ aˆ¦the first persons to follow an innovationaˆ¦have great fiscal clarity, really socialaˆ¦and has the highest grade of sentiment leading ” ( Rogers, 1962 ) . Of class this brief description does non use to all early adoptive parents in the Lao context.


For portion of the informations aggregation I will develop a personal helper in assisting with carry oning interviews. This may weaken the quality of information collected if the helper is non trained decently. The rule of qualitive analysis is to roll up the entireness of the reply or instead, record every individual word. Yet recreational interviewers are prone to enter merely the information that pertains to the inquiry. It is of import for me to pattern the right methods before leting him to carry on interviews on his ain.

A 2nd restriction is the riddance of prejudices or positionality, mentioning to the function that the interviewer and interviewee drama in finding the result of an interview ( Rose, 1997 ) . As a Director and strong advocator for Terra Clear Development Ltd. and its mainline merchandise, the SCF, it will be hard to non reply inquiries about the merchandise and influence the interview outcomes. Care must be taken in turn toing inquiries so as to ease wholly nonsubjective replies.

1.7 Work program