Safe and Sustainable household in South Asia

In 2017 Consumers International together with members in India, Bangladesh and Indonesia worked to address the need for low income consumers to access safer and more sustainable products. This was funded by the IKEA Foundation, who believe in safer, healthier homes for children to grow up in, funded this exciting project.

What's the problem?

In many low income countries, the market prevalence of poor quality, unsafe and environmentally unsound products and services has a detrimental effect on consumers’ ability to make safer and more sustainable consumer choices. The consumption of unsafe and hazardous products, such as the use of biomass fuels for cooking leading to indoor air pollution, has negative health and environmental implications.

This situation is exacerbated by a lack of access to information and support to enable families to make informed choices, restricted choice due to limited income and other factors.

What the project did

Our project gave people living in low-income communities in India, Indonesia and Bangladesh the information they needed to buy safe products, with a particular focus on women and children as they are often the victims of these household accidents.

The project identified which products are most commonly used by these communities, and the products were rigorously tested to identify which ones are safe and sustainable, appose to those which aren’t.

We also ran a communications campaign to educate and empower consumers about dangerous and unsustainable products. 



Raising the consumer voice in India

As part of our vision for Safe and Sustainable Households in South Asia we carried out impact-driven interventions in India across six communities in three states.

Our activities helped communities to switch their purchasing patterns to more sustainable products such as gas cooker pipes, detergent and energy-efficient light bulbs. And we empowered vulnerable consumers by promoting the value of consumer rights and how they can use them to see lasting change.

We worked with four leading consumer advocacy groups in India – trusted by consumers and experienced in carrying out similar community initiatives. They played a core role to the design of the project, and ultimately its end results.

Selected achievements include:  

  • The consumption of safer and more sustainable products increased - the average number of households using LED light bulbs across the six communities increased from 22% to 68%.
  • The affordability of products was strengthened – the average price for LED light bulbs decreased by between 33% to 42%. Local supply points in the target communities provided all five sustainable products that were addressed in the project.
  • Community understanding of consumer rights and the tools available to them increased. For example, in 2019, 71% of respondents had awareness of consumer rights compared to 44% in 2017.
  • Consumer awareness of safety and quality marks increased from 18% to 61%. Awareness of health and economic benefits of products that are safe and environmentally sound increased substantively.

Our impact was made possible by the commitment of our members in India: Consumer Association of India (CAI), Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) and Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG).

For more on our project and impact read out report


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