Problem Addressed

SWAP operates in Western Kenya, an area with high poverty levels and high burden of disease. The area has one of the highest infant and child mortality rates and the highest HIV rates in the country, more than double the national rates. Micro-entrepreneurship in remote areas of Western Kenya shows great promise to create positive economic, social and health outcomes. Further, there is a strong body of evidence that carefully selected public health products, if adopted on a wide enough scale and used properly – are cost-effective and can improve the overall health and productivity of communities. Awareness, demand, supply, and use of these technologies, however, are typically low. This is especially evident among low-income, rural communities, where market penetration for many of these products has been slow or non-existent.

The adoption of positive health practices and health products will prevent some of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, specifically in the most vulnerable communities such as children under five, pregnant mothers and people living with HIV. SWAP’s adoption and use of products prevent diarrheal illness, respiratory tract infections, HIV and STI infections, malaria and malnutrition. Further, it provides an opportunity to generate income while improving health.

Innovative Approach

The program’s innovation lies in its financial sustainability and lack of dependence on donor funding. This program in particular utilizes income generation opportunities from the sale of health and sanitation products and a business model approach that allows it to be financially autonomous and flexible. Business and personal finance training courses are also incorporated into the approach to further enhance educational opportunities of individual community members.

Another unique strategy the Safe Water and AIDS (SWAP) project uses is the ‘behavioral change technique,’ focusing on removing one’s expert hat and listening to community needs. The combination of these two innovative pieces excels the program’s impact further and is in that way unique in the WASH sector.

Program Solution

The Safe Water and AIDS Project (SWAP) has established a sustainable distribution model of health and hygiene products in peri-urban and rural areas of Western Kenya. SWAP sets up Jamii (Community) Centers, which serve as business hubs for trained community health promoters and are stocked with health and hygiene products. Each center has 30 trained community health promoters who do health promotion and door-to-door sales, with the aim of improving health, generating income, and developing self-reliance.

The Community Health Promoters’ training focuses on primary health care, water and sanitation, social behavioral change communication, interpersonal communication, business skills, mobile phone technologies, record keeping and stock management. Each promoter reaches an average of 100 households. The products include household water treatment (waterguard, aquatab, purifier), safe storage vessels, soaps and detergents, sanitary pads, diapers, delivery kits, deworming tablets, ORS and Zinc, Micronutrient Powder, fortified flour, moringa, skin infection treatments, clean cook stoves, solar lamps, mosquito nets, condoms, and more.

SWAP also has a research department undertaking various effectiveness studies evaluating the health and economic impact of its health interventions, technologies and products. A waterlab supports the research, while CDC Atlanta provides technical support. SWAP is currently outsourcing its research expertise to various partners in order to increase partnerships and to become less donor-dependent. SWAP supports orphans and vulnerable children with scholarships and psycho-social support. An emergency fund caters to widows and can be used in response to disease outbreaks such as cholera.

Safe Water and AIDS Project (SWAP)

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Partners: The Ministry of Health of Kenya; USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV); Procter & Gamble; Population Services Kenya (PSK); Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD); Innovations in Health Care; Social Innovation in Health Initiative; Stockholm Environment Institute and Life Ball Vienna, as well as several collaborating universities.

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