The Dreampipe Prize: Financial Innovation to Reduce Water Losses

Jan 31, 2016, 19:01 ET from IMC Worldwide

LONDON, February 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

New £1.25mn, 2-stage DFID-backed prize aims to increase financing to reduce water losses in developing countries 

Dreampipe, a major UK government-funded innovation prize was launched today, aiming to stem the amount of water lost in developing countries through leakage, meter inaccuracies and unauthorized use.

The initiative will spur improved ways of mobilising funding to reduce the vast amounts of 'non-revenue water' (NRW) - the difference between water entering the system and billed to customers - in developing countries. The total purse is £1.25mn to be distributed over two stages (up to five tranches in stage I; three in stage II) over the next 22 months. The competition will appeal to financial and water utility experts. It is expected that successful solutions will mobilise multiple times the prize purse in funding.

Reducing NRW lowers costs, increases revenue, brings about a more equitable distribution of water and helps to conserve precious - and increasingly scarce - water resources. The emphasis to date in water-loss reduction has been on the technical aspects.

"What's lagged behind are widely applicable solutions for financing related investments. International financial institutions' resources are limited. This prize will stimulate thinking on how to increase needed financing," said the prize's manager, Chris Shugart. "In principle, these deals will be financeable: well-planned investments to reduce NRW can pay for themselves over 7-10 years."

One study estimates water losses at 27bn m³ annually in urban areas of developing countries; halving NRW losses could generate $2.9bn annually and service an additional 90mn people, without using new water resources[1].

Entries will be judged by seeking improved financing solutions that can be standardised, replicated and scaled up to serve the needs of many water utility companies.

"Financing for water infrastructure investment in developing economies has been hard to mobilise owing to lack of borrower creditworthiness and high risk," said Tom Williams, programmes director at the International Water Association. "This prize should help incentivise and drive improvements."

The prize is part of the UK Department for International Development's (DFID) "Ideas to Impact" innovation inducement programme. Dreampipe is managed by a consortium led by the British-based consultancy IMC Worldwide. The launch is supported by the IWA.

Further information: The prize's website

1. Kingdom, Liemberger & Marin 2006 'The Challenge of Reducing Non-Revenue Water in Developing Countries.' (World Bank PPIAF)

Media Contact: Matthew Saltmarsh:, or +44(0)75-7800-51763

SOURCE IMC Worldwide