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IHUWASH Accelerator – The Complete Story

India currently has an urban population of more than 377 million, which is further expected to grow to 590 million by 2030. A recent report by the World Bank Group indicates that India needs Rs. 2,533 billion (or Rs. 2.53 lakh crores) between the period 2018 and 2022 to fund new sanitation infrastructure and cover the supporting costs of the same. This is almost equal to India’s annual GDP in 2017.

Apart from the apparent financial roadblocks, the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector in India have several other unique challenges including diverse user needs, complex and interconnected problems in the sector, and the need for sustainable revenue models. 

So, it is important to note that the issues in the WASH sector cannot be resolved by a single stakeholder. There is clearly a need for multi-disciplinary partners to collaborate and support pilots, and to come up with innovative solutions that can overcome the challenges the sector presents. 

IHUWASH – What is it? 

The USAID-supported Innovation Hub for Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IHUWASH) is a platform that addresses the need for cross-functional partnerships. It attempts to foster partnerships with governments, research institutions, universities, industry bodies, private sector companies, sector experts and innovators to sustainably solve some of urban India’s most pressing WASH problems.

Starting in December 2017, Ennovent worked in partnership with the National Institute of Urban Affairs to design and run the IHUWASH Accelerator.  The IHUWASH Accelerator extended support to the three municipal corporations of Faridabad, Mysuru, and Udaipur in three ways:

1. Sourcing Market-based Radical Innovations

We identified relevant WASH innovations for these cities by identifying priority WASH problems and calling for entrepreneurs who can address the same with their radical innovations. We received 58 applications in all and shortlisted 15 of them

2. Forging Multi-Disciplinary Partnerships

We brought on board GINSERV, one of India’s leading incubation centers, as the program’s incubation partner. This partnership extended the program’s capacity to connect innovators with technology experts and investors. Entrepreneur Data Program (EDP) by Emory University joined as the program’s impact assessment partner. EDP has collected initial baseline data from the program participants and over the next few years will measure effectiveness and contributions to innovators’ growth and scale. 

3. Key Government Stakeholder Buy-In

Getting the buy-in of the municipal corporations was a critical part of the program. NIUA’s role as a policy think-tank and advisory body to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, have been critical factors that helped get the necessary buy-in from government officials. 

Outputs and Outcomes

Releasing of the IHUWASH Coffee table bookFrom the shortlisted innovations, the city officials have taken up further conversations with 8 of the pilot innovations. Squatease, one of the pilot innovations has also been implemented in Udaipur. 

The Accelerator also resulted in an IHUWASH Compendium – a compendium of WASH innovations in India, and a coffee table book. The compendium lists all the innovations accelerator through the programme while listing their working, business model and benefits. 

The Way Forward

While the IHUWASH Accelerator has concluded, it is important to note that innovation is needed on multiple fronts to address issues related to WASH in India. Never before, has there been a greater need for governments, innovators, experts, funders and corporates to collaborate-innovate together.

We are constantly in need of innovation partnerships, expert partnerships and financial partnerships to support pilot innovations in the WASH sector. If you wish to have a conversation with us about this, drop us an email at

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