Can innovation prizes help address water and sanitation challenges?
This paper helps identify whether innovation prizes can be used to address intractable issues in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector and makes recommendations for potential innovation prizes across a number of problem areas. The paper relates to Stage 1 of Innovation prizes: a guide for use in a developing country context (henceforth referred to as the Guide), published alongside this paper, identifying WASH challenges for low-income households and considering where innovation prizes could best provide effective interventions. Innovation prizes can be used as an alternative to traditional grant programmes, to stimulate innovative solutions, attract new problem solvers and generate media attention around a particular set of issues. From a donor’s point of view, they may provide better value for money than traditional grants, as payments are directly linked to solutions being found and applied. Innovation prizes are a relatively new and untested funding mechanism in the development sector but could hold considerable potential. This paper therefore presents a number of areas where innovation prizes could be considered to either trigger genuine innovation or promote scaling up of existing innovations in the WASH sector.