Carbon finance boosts Cambodian social enterprise bringing clean water to rural households

For the first time in Asia, a sustainable and market-based water filtration business has been registered under the voluntary Gold Standard scheme, and will benefit from carbon offset funding, showcasing that carbon markets can support sustainable technologies that improve the lives of poor populations. Cambodian social enterprise Hydrologic manufactures ceramic water purifiers which provide clean water to rural households, reduce the amount of wood burnt to boil water, create local jobs and bolster economic development. Hydrologic’s business model, which was named a winner of 2012 Ashden Award, attracted the interest of private sector companies, including an impact investor (Impact Finance) and a multinational company purchasing the first carbon credits (Deutsche Post DHL).

Nearly 40 per cent of rural Cambodians still have no access to safe drinking water. Untreated water and poor sanitation result in about 10 million cases of diarrhea and 10,000 deaths per year in Cambodia, mainly affecting children in rural areas. Hydrologic Social Enterprise produces and sells ceramic water filters that provide safe drinking water to rural households of Cambodia. By displacing water boiling practices, the filters are helping Cambodian households to avoid the unsustainable burning of 18,000 tons of wood per year, saving 41,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions yearly. Thanks to this impressive environmental impact, the project has completed its registration under the voluntary Gold Standard scheme, the award winning certification standard for carbon mitigation projects.

The project has two major features:

  • It uses a market based approach: Hydrologic Social Enterprise believes that sustainable business is a powerful way to provide clean water for as many people as possible. It created a market for water purifiers in Cambodia by selling affordable filters to NGO programs, and via shops and rural sales agents. Households benefit from a low cost water filtration technology, and the local economy is bolstered by the establishment of production and distribution facilities.
  • Carbon offsets ensure a sustainable business model, as the carbon revenue is directly re-invested into further scaling up project activities.

Hydrologic was also named a winner of a 2012 Ashden Award, a prestigious award that champions and promotes practical, local energy solutions that cut carbon, protect the environment, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives.

Hydrologic joined Nexus, a nonprofit cooperative of NGOs and social enterprises that scale up development solutions by leveraging sustainable funding from the sale of high-quality carbon offsets, a concept referred to as “Carbon for Development”. Nexus provided financial and technical assistance with the carbon certification process, and is supporting the commercialization of carbon credits by engaging companies and public institutions on a fair approach to offsetting.

Hydrologic’s sustainable business model and its numerous benefits for the environment, the economy and poor populations successfully attracted private sector support. An impact investor, Impact Finance, provided a loan to support the development of the project, and a multinational company, Deutsche Post DHL, has committed to purchase carbon credits originating from the project.


  • The project’s first verification (annual assessment of GHG emissions reductions achieved by the project by an independent third party) is expected by the end of 2012.

About us

  • About Hydrologic Social Enterprise: Hydrologic is a social enterprise created and wholly owned by iDE, a non-profit international development organization. iDE introduced the low-cost Ceramic Water Purifier technology in Cambodia in 2001, setting up local manufacturing and distribution networks and stimulating demand through social marketing campaigns. In 2009, iDE spun off the water filter initiative as an autonomous social enterprise, Hydrologic. Start-up resources for Hydrologic came from several sources including PATH and the USAID WaterSHED project, in form of grants and technical assistance. Loans have also been received from iDE and the social investment fund Impact Finance.
  • About Nexus: Nexus is a nonprofit cooperative of development organizations – social enterprises and NGOs – leveraging carbon finance to increase their impact on poor and rural communities, local economies, and climate change mitigation. By joining forces, members reach economies of scale and reduce risks from the incubation of projects to the sale of carbon credits.


  • Michael Roberts, iDE Cambodia / Hydrologic Social Enterprise, +855 23 223 541,
  • Marion SANTINI, Communications Manager, Nexus-Carbon for Development, +855 78 40 50 74,

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