Sunday, 14 March 2021

Narayanpura an interior village in Vrindavana, Uttar Pradesh comprises of mixed community and varied cultures. The majority of their livelihood comes from agricultural practices. The village faces water scarcity due to the unavailability of drinking water sources. Ground water is the most commonly used water source that has 2200 TDS. (Source: Baseline Report)

Baseline study done by the Impact Assessment team of Sarvajal highlighted all the surveyed households of Narayanpura were highly dissatisfied with the quality of drinking water, 58% of the surveyed households spend 40 – 60 minutes for collecting drinking water. Water borne diseases such as Diarrhoea, teeth discoloration and pain in joints are prevalent here.  

Standard Chartered Bank under its CSR initiative, WASHe project, adopted this village with Piramal Sarvajal (a social enterprise working towards safe, accessible and affordable drinking water by leveraging technology) as an implementing partner.

A 1000lph water purification unit was installed at the centre of the village. As the demand increased the village later on converted into a Hub and Spoke model that is; Naryanpura village is now providing water to 4 nearby villages (Gonda Atas, Devi Atas, Ramtal and Sumera Nagla) through installed Water ATMs(spokes) in all above villages.

Enable health Society, (Piramal Sarvajal’s partner NGO) works to educate the community and spread awareness on water and health linkages by engaging with the community every month. They conduct different activities at schools and in the village to influence behaviour change towards adopt healthier practises.

Consumers appreciate the price at which safe water is made available to everyone and have experienced relief in many ways. They are at ease with the intervention and most of them said,“Sarvajal water is affordable and easily accessible gives us the leverage to take water anytime.saves time and money with good health.” 

Consumer Brij Lal ji is happy with the services of water and says “Phele ghuntno mai dard hota tha peechle 4 mahine se paani le rahe hai aur swasthya mai bhi kaafi sudhaar dikh raha hai”

Consumer Mridula Ji takes 10 litres of water daily  for her family and says “I can’t compromise with my Daughter’s health and I have seen improvement in everyone’s health in my family so I collect water daily without fail. I thank Standard Chartered Bank for such valuable service”

Kalaliya is a large village located in Jaora Tehsil of Ratlam district, Madhya Pradesh with total 843 families residing in it. The main source of drinking water in this village is tube well, supplied to them via piped connection to their house. 97% (32/33) of households depend upon it even though the TDS is 900. 

The intervention of Safe Drinking water is required because- 

Quality of water: During an internal survey, 94% (31/33) of respondents rated their drinking water quality as poor.

Willingness to Purchase: 91%(30/33) of households have shown a willingness to purchase drinking water from Sarvajal plant and are willing to spend between INR 150 – INR 300 on it per month. Also, 73% (24/33) of households are willing to opt for home delivery at an additional cost.

Medical Expenses: 40% of households earn between INR 5001 -15,000 per month, on an average spend 3.1% i.e. INR 400 of their monthly income on medical expenses.

In such challenging situation, Standard Chartered Bank adopted this village by setting up community-level purification plant with Water ATM. Water is dispensed from the ATMs by swiping the RFID card provided to the consumers. These ATMs are remotely monitored and cloud-connected to the central management system by Sarvajal to ensure last-mile delivery, price transparency, pay per use and quality assurance. With the increased demand the plant has Hub and Spoke model and provides water to 4 nearby villages through Water ATMs. 

At the start of the intervention, a Village Water Committee (11 members) was formed that focused on the community as a collective. It built a sense of ownership and commitment for the project. Poonam Ji is the operator of the purification plant and is working consistently towards the cause. The village has accepted woman as operator and committee members to take up such opportunities and lead in her own community thereby broadening the perceptions of the community.

Operator Pooman Ji narrates "Life has started with a new beginning and I am excited to learn a lot. I finish all the household chores in the day so that I can meet more customers in the morning and evening. Serving water is a noble cause and for this, I got the support and confidence from home that every woman should get. I keep learning from the members of VWC on how I can manage the plant and customers effectively”

The NGO partner Enable Health Society‘s team engages with the community every month to encourage them to adopt better health solutions to consider long-term benefits. Spread awareness about health and water linkages along with different types of contamination that affect health.

After a certain period of time, our consumers have acknowledged the importance of water quality as it is beneficial to them. ­­­­­­­­

Voice of consumer 

Consumer Ranjit Patidaar says "Sarvajal water is precious to me as it takes care of my family's health. I take 20 litres water daily"

Ram Babu says “Meri poti ko saaf paani paani hi pilaana hai, hume bachpan mein nahi mila par humare baccho aur poore parivaar ke liye sarvajal ka saaf paani hi lete hai”

Suresh Chand Patidaar says, “Ab Sarvajal ke paani ka hi taste accha lagta hai, card dwara paani milta hai lene mai bhi aasan hai. Kabhi kabhi mere bacche bhi jaake le aate hai”

Monday, 8 March 2021

I recently visited Dhikwar village in Rajasthan adopted by Standard Chartered Bank in collaboration with the technical partner Piramal Sarvajal to provide easy access to safe and affordable drinking water. 

(The total population of the village is 2743 and 275 households. ~source: baseline impact study of Sarvajal. The existing source water is provided through the stand posts, situated in 9 different corners of the village. The source has TDS- 1,135 ppm to 2,845 ppm. Furthermore, it is crucial to note that 94% (31/33) of respondents rated their drinking water quality as poor.)

On my first meeting with newly appointed operator Pooja Ji, I sensed her insecurities which is though common in rural India. Her head and entire face were covered with a veil and her voice was low. I felt skeptical that time whether she would be able to manage the tasks of being an operator or not. 

I spent 2 days with her while we were doing pre-launch awareness and behaviour based activities. During the interactions with the community, I was amazed to see that she came out to be a quick learner. After sometime her strong willpower was observed to speak to the villagers and accompany me in the conversations. 

It says, “you can’t be what you can’t see”. Everything was so new to her she shared and affirmed “Aap aache se samjha denge toh mai kar lungi” 

At launch, I saw an altogether new person who was learning about the machine and its process. After sometime, I asked her "could you now demonstrate to me what all you have learnt from our field engineer. She instantly started the machine and at that moment I could see her head was high with pride and dignity without her ghunghat on her face. 

Villagers also appreciated her and congratulated her for getting the opportunity to showcase her talent. 

One of the government senior school teachers said to me that “you have chosen a deserving person as she has faced financial uncertainties in her life, the livelihood will help her to manage her kids and socio-economic condition shall improve. Pooja already has experience with Machines and she understands things quickly so operating the machine won’t be an issue. Sarvajal will indeed play an uplifting role in her life ”

People's belief on her made me feel nostalgic and I felt that every woman should get such opportunities and leadership to take in her community thereby challenging the stereotypes. 

On being asked about her experience after a few days of launch, she spoke to me confidently and said "Vaishali hum abhi kaafi logo se baat chit kar rahe hai.. log ek doosre ko dekhkar prerit ho rahe hai aur paani ka card humse banwa rahe hai”

It was a moment of contentment to see that the community has accepted a female taking role of leadership and management and was empowered to live a dignified life. At the same time, I felt satisfying to witness financial upliftment in pooja Ji's life. Not only this, it was delightful as she would now constantly expand her horizon on daily basis.