Deploying a "Water ATM"

This solution addresses lack of access to clean water in developing countries for water distributors, families, and governments

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Problem Description

Water ATMs were originally developed as a way to solve two problems. First, Water ATMs address the need for clean water. Behind every Water ATM is a cost effective and efficient water filtration method such as reverse osmosis or activated carbon. But the real innovation comes when these systems are integrated with a distribution system that accurately prices the commodity, and conveniently and reliably administers it to people who are in need. The 'ATM' of the Water ATM solves this second aspect by creating a simple distribution kiosk. Users are given a card, much like an ATM card, that automatically charges them for the water they use and then distributes it in a reliable manner. Not only does this solve a pain point for the users, but it also brings in revenue for the distributors. This revenue incentivizes the maintenance and proper functionality of the entire system, something that individuals in demand happily pay a fair price for.

Building Blocks


The first successful Water ATM implementation was at the hands of the Pirimal Foundation and it's water-focused social enterprise, Sarvajal. Using a simple design, the Sarvajal ATM has gained traction across India and has been deployed over 180 times. Other entities such as foreign technology corporations, municipal governments, and university researchers have also taken their shot at the Water ATM design. Although these separate developments contain slight nuances in design and implementation, their baseline features are very much the same. While in the future there lie many more opportunities for implementation, designs for effective Water ATM systems exist in the present.

Sustainable Development Goals

On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. This solution covers the following goals:

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Social Progress Index

  • Water and Sanitation - Can people drink water and keep themselves clean without getting sick?
  • Photos

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    • Girls getting water from atm


    • Water For All

      "Sustainable solutions for reducing and utilizing Sarvajal’s Reverse Osmosis brine in Northwestern India" - From Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & Environment

    • Water ATMs Create a Splash

      An article in WIPO Magazine, by Catherine Jewell

    Organisations Involved

    Solution Stage

    One of the 7 stages of an innovation. Learn more
    Developing and implementing5
    Strong leadership, management, implementation skills
    • Policy design
    • Programme design
    • Business modelling
    • Organisational design
    • Prepare for some adaptation to implementation
    • Programme funds, equity, loans, grants
    A robust and detailed case developed through formal evaluation and evidence gathering – use of a control group to isolate impact
    An implemented and sustainable innovation

    Key Details

    Social Progress Index
    Water and Sanitation
    Sustainable Development Goals
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      This is really helpful! Have you seen this solution deployed in any other regions besides those listed here?