Our Approach

Our Approach

East Meets West designs innovative financing and service delivery models to bring clean water, sanitation & hygiene, and other essential services to underserved communities. We test these models and carefully measure their performance.

When evidence shows that a test is cost-effective and valued by participants, we scale the model and disseminate the lessons learned to key government, private sector and civil society partners to sustainably advance local capacity.

Our evidence-based approach, the exceptional skill level of our in-country staff, and our commitment to transferring skills through long-term engagement have helped us become a trusted partner in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Browse below for more information on core components of our program models and approach.

  • Evidence-Based Research

  • Gender Equity & Social Inclusion

  • Capacity Building

  • Private Sector Engagement

  • Innovative Financing & Output-Based Aid

  • Evidence-Based Research

    Strategically collected and analyzed data is at the heart of our efforts to improve our programs. By regularly collecting and analyzing data about where, when, and with whom we work, we gain the most targeted guidance in refining and innovating our programs to increase communities’ access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Our research methods can be broken down into four main steps:

    1. Rigorous Data Collection Our sustainable solutions are driven by extensive field research and on-ground data, which we collect in collaboration with local communities and national government. Thousands of women volunteers visit families regularly to get feedback on water quality and service, while technicians supervise field sites daily and evaluate water systems monthly. Provincial partners then convene quarterly to discuss WASH access levels, while district authorities survey private water companies’ performance through regular water quality testing and business plan reviews. Since our women-led WASH program (WOBA) provides incentives for results, these activities are essential in verifying outputs and keeping stakeholders accountable in maintaining international WASH standards.

    2. Analysis A robust monitoring system tracks our solutions’ impact and helps us identify opportunities for improvement. Volunteers and a local monitoring team digitally document information from over 300 water systems and over 300,000 sanitation facilities in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. We rapidly synthesize data, verify latrines or water connections, and detect issues that need to be addressed right away. We supplement these quantitative findings by gathering our women change agents every six months to compare their performance and pinpoint best practices that others can adapt.

    3. Refine Comprehensive research informs adjustments throughout our project cycles and improves service delivery. Our data helps government partners and private water businesses manage the water systems, reducing cost per connection so more households can afford clean water. In addition, women change agents are empowered to provide technical support to communities showing low results. By rapidly responding to challenges and constantly refining our program, we are able to keep 90-100% of water systems constructed under output-based aid operational, compared to national figures of 55-70% under other schemes.

    4. Innovation Collected evidence direct program innovation, help shape national policy on water, sanitation and hygiene, and allow us to expand our reach. Upon recognizing the vital role women play in improving health in the community, we launched the Women-led Output-Based Aid approach (WOBA) in 2018, with its success influencing our other strategies to date. We also share data through our Regional Knowledge Hub. This helps national governments improve WASH policies in communities and schools, with Vietnam adopting the output-based aid approach, and Cambodia accepting the strategy as part of its rural WASH program. Utilizing and sharing our evidence-based approaches advances Thrive methodology, inspires adoption, and scales up the use of our model by more organizations and communities

    Our Impact: Our experience proves that cross-country learning is essential to influencing government policy and to successfully implementing our WOBA approach. High-level officials from Vietnam and Laos sharing their experiences in public-private partnerships led to government acceptance of our water programs in Cambodia. By identifying best practices through our monitoring system, experts from the Vietnam Women’s Union were able to help build the capacity of Women’s Union members in Laos to spur higher demand for WASH services and create a culture of good hygiene in their communities.

  • Gender Equity & Social Inclusion

    Lack of funding and information, exclusion from decision-making, poorly designed facilities and restrictive gender norms are common challenges women and girls in Vietnam face in accessing WASH services.”

    – Elaine Mercer, Institute of Development Studies Access to clean water and sanitation in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam has seen improvements in the last decade, but we know that key barriers remain in terms of equitable access.

    As part of our commitment to reach last-mile communities, East Meets West integrates a lens for gender equity and social inclusion throughout all our programs to make sure no one is left behind when it comes to water and sanitation. We include key gender and social inclusion indicators in our monitoring, evaluation, and learning systems to track our progress.

    In our flagship Women-Led Output-Based Aid (WOBA) programs, we support opportunities and benefits in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for everyone in the community, with an emphasis on gender equality and social inclusion. Through these women-led WASH programs, East Meets West partners with local women’s organizations to educate women about good WASH practices. This collaboration equips women and girls to take on leadership roles and influence communities to invest in WASH services.

    For more information on our women-led water, sanitation, and hygiene program, go to our program page [link].

  • Capacity Building

    East Meets West goes beyond making it possible for poor households to afford latrines and piped water connections – we help create a culture of good hygiene to spur demand for WASH services by engaging local populations to teach important health and sanitation practices.

    Transformation happens when the public and private sectors have the same vision. We ensure continued access by building government agencies’ capacity to implement an Output-Based Aid (OBA) model independently and establish rebate mechanisms that keep the private sector engaged and delivering reliable services.

    Building local capacity, training people to become effective community leaders, engaging businesses and government agencies, and collecting data to harness critical evidence in guiding program design are important functions of our work. The execution of these vital tasks requires a high level of skill and experience among key players.

  • Private Sector Engagement

    “Tackling sanitation challenges is key to advancing human development. The Deputy Secretary General is aiming to bring together key partners from government, civil society, business and international organizations to commit to action.” – The UN Deputy Secretary-General’s Call to Action on Sanitation (2013)

    Based on evidence from three successful pilot projects, East Meets West scaled the Output-Based Aid (OBA) model to drive private sector engagement in the delivery of clean water services and hygienic latrines to underserved communities in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The research revealed that the private sector can both successfully deliver efficient water and sanitation services and adapt more readily to new technologies than government agencies or nonprofits. Furthermore, consumer willingness to invest appears to be directly related to the quality of service. When clean water delivery is reliable, families, even in the poorest communities, will pay for it.

    East Meets West has developed a method for calculating full cost recovery tariffs and smart subsidy levels which governments are adopting. Along with newly introduced competitive and transparent bidding processes, there has been a substantial increase in private investment in the sector.

    While maximizing social welfare for households, private sector partnerships support financial sustainability and job creation – particularly with East Meets West’s emphasis on female entrepreneurs.  East Meets West demonstrates that innovative funding mechanisms significantly increase private enterprise involvement in WASH service delivery.

  • Innovative Financing & Output-Based Aid

    East Meets West has been pioneering the output-based aid approach in the fields of clean water, sanitation, and education since 2007.

    Unlike traditional development programs where vendors are paid upfront to deliver a product or service, output-based aid, or results-based financing, makes payments after the technology or service has been implemented and verified. Output-based aid not only extends access to clean water and sanitation; it brings down the barriers to private sector business. This dual engine fuels communities to evolve for good.

    Our work in water, sanitation, and hygiene using innovative financing and the output-based aid approach offers incentives to grassroots workers, households and villages to stimulate demand for WASH products and services in underserved communities. When families have a clean water source and a proper latrine or toilet, they are healthier and more prosperous.

    The output-based aid approach:

    • Sparks household demand for clean water and latrines.

    • Incentivizes private companies to build water connections where they are needed most, so poor families can afford clean water.

    • Helps us to reach the not only the poorest communities, but the most marginalized, including people with disabilities; female heads of households; the elderly; and children under five, who face even more challenges in accessing water and sanitation.

    • Keeps the impact of our work sustainable.

    For more information, see our Output-Based Aid & WASH program page 

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