Safe Water Network Partners with India for Rainwater Harvesting

Safe Water Network – a not-for-profit dedicated to the development of reliable, sustainable, and scalable water solutions for the world's poor – announced on March 31 a partnership with India-based organizations Bhoruka Charitable Trust, the Centre for microFinance, and the Institute of Health Management Research for a rainwater harvesting optimization program in Rajasthan, India.

This 18-month initiative expands on a recently completed program that delivered rainwater harvesting systems to 15 villages in the Churu District of Rajasthan.

The program supports the development and validation of improvements in three areas: cistern design, water quality, and funding tools. The program also includes the completion of a White Paper, which will make policy recommendations specific to Rajasthan. Lessons from the initiative will be shared with others who are working around the world to help the nearly one billion people living in areas of acute water scarcity.

"This work builds on findings from our initial project" says Kurt Soderlund, chief executive officer, Safe Water Network. "We are pleased to partner with these Rajasthan-based organizations to take a comprehensive approach that will bring measurable improvements to the ancient practice of rainwater harvesting."

Bhoruka Charitable Trust will construct more than 600 household level rainwater cisterns (kund) and refurbish 32 community-level cisterns, bringing safe water to approximately 10,000 individuals throughout 40 villages. "Through the improvement and standardization of the cistern, we are creating a more durable, affordable, and easy-to-replicate rainwater harvesting program," says Amitava Banerjee, executive director, Bhoruka Charitable Trust. "And, through the education of local masons, we will ensure the systems are well maintained and therefore operational and functional over time."

The Institute of Health Management Research is supporting the "software" elements of the program – including water quality management, health and hygiene promotion, working with government liaisons, and preparing the White Paper for policy makers. This includes social marketing strategies and advocacy programs to communicate opportunities in rainwater harvesting to stakeholders in Rajasthan. "This is a unique opportunity to demonstrate opportunities for local communities and government officials to pursue the considerable advantages of rainwater harvesting, which realizes significant economic and environmental benefits," says Goutam Sadhu, program director, Institute of Health Management Research. "If delivered correctly, and combined with the proper community participation, rainwater harvesting can be a powerful tool in significantly reducing the incidence of waterborne illness and disease as well as the widespread suffering caused by water scarcity."

The participation of the Centre for microFinance will demonstrate alternative funding models that enable villagers to obtain loans to pay for their water harvesting facilities over time.

Safe Water Network's rainwater harvesting initiative in Rajasthan is funded, in part, by PepsiCo Foundation.