Impact Water: Providing safe drinking water to over 800,000 students in schools in Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria

Impact Water increases children’s access to safe drinking water in Africa while slowing down climate change.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Impact Water

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $500k - $1m

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water

Headquarters location: Country

  • Uganda

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Uganda: 60+ districts across the country Kenya: Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kajiado, and Nakuru Counties Nigeria: Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, and Abuja States


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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Throughout the developing world, schools struggle to provide access to enough safe drinking water for all of their students. Unsafe drinking water can cause serious illnesses like cholera, typhoid, parasites, worms, and diarrhea. Many schools do not boil enough water or don’t boil water for long enough periods of time to kill all of the bacteria, viruses and parasites in the water, or improperly handle the water after boiling and allow it to be recontaminated due to poor safe storage containers and poor hygiene.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Impact Water Limited is a commercially-proven and scalable social enterprise which delivers sustainable, safe drinking water to developing country institutions, such as schools and health facilities. It does this via the sale, installation and maintenance of high-performance, water purification systems which use established technologies (such as ultrafiltration and UV treatment) and perform effectively for decades with relatively simple, preventative maintenance. Credit services, provided by Impact Water, allow customers to pay for their systems over time, typically 1-2 years, and installment payments are timed with the unique cash flows of customers. This is game-changing for schools because the payment cycle is much more manageable compared to monthly payments. The social enterprise has successfully sold to over 1,500 Ugandan schools and many of its systems have been delivering reliable, sustainable and affordable safe drinking water to students for over three years already.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Impact Water’s work increases children’s access to safe drinking water in Africa while slowing down climate change. First, Impact Water has greatly increased the number of children with access to safe drinking water in schools in Uganda. Over 1,500 schools in Uganda have safe drinking water systems since Impact Water launched in October 2014. Because of these installations, over 800,000 students in Uganda now have access to safe drinking water. The social impact of having access to safe drinking water is far-reaching, including: improved dignity and health for millions of school children; socio-economic advancements which result from reduced absenteeism at school; financial savings; and reduced biomass consumption. Impact Water’s solution also slows the effects of climate change. Every year over 50,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions are prevented from being emitted in the atmosphere because schools have switched from boiling water to using water purification systems.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

This initiative is primarily supported through direct sales of water purification systems to schools (80% of budget) and via social impact capital (20% of budget) which make it possible for Impact Water to sell to schools on multi-year credit terms and overcome the normal large upfront investment barrier. This initiative is also supported by carbon financing. In the long term, this initiative will achieve financial sustainability through selling, installing and maintaining water purification systems to schools on low-cost, multi-year credit terms. The short-term costs have exceeded short-term revenue, and thus the company is still operating at annual losses but foresees reaching break even in Uganda over the next 2-3 years and in Kenya and Nigeria over the next 3-5 years.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

What makes Impact Water most unique is its ability to deliver sustainable, safe drinking water solutions to thousands of developing country institutions by leveraging social impact capital to make these systems affordable and by building in-country teams that can implement consistently and cost-effectively. We believe that the fact that over 1,600 schools have purchased systems and over 800,000 students are already benefiting demonstrates the exciting potential to scale this business.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Impact Water started as a pilot project of Impact Carbon, a California-based NGO. Impact Carbon started working in Uganda in 2008 on the largest household improved cook stove project in East Africa, creating access to improved cook stoves for over 500,000 Ugandan households and leveraged carbon financing to make this possible. However, when working on this project, Impact Carbon realized that schools also release large amounts of CO2 emissions while boiling water. After piloting different water purification treatment options, it became apparent that modern water purification technologies could work well in schools and prevent large amounts of CO2 emissions as well. We then realized that many schools did not have the capital or access to credit to be able to afford these technologies. Once we created affordable, financing options for schools, the project took off.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others


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