A water ATM to the rescue
With the swipe of a smart card, he buys 20 litres of clean drinking water for Rs 5.
The rural entrepreneur selling the water, earns up to Rs 9,000 per month.
Through a single intervention — an ATM-like iJal Station, US-based Safe Water Network, SWN, ensures the availability of potable water, and a viable livelihood opportunity for some of India’s poorest and most disempowered communities.”Our aim is to create easily replicable models of drinking water enterprise, not just in India, but anywhere in the world where people don’t have access to safe drinking water,” says Founder and CEO of SWN, Kurt Soderlund.
Since they began work in India eight years ago, SWN has set up 187 iJal stations across the country, with 172 in Telangana alone.
“We have conducted massive outreach programs, trained station operators to be safe water advocates and improved the branding and signage at our safe water stations,” says Poonam Sewak, vice president (knowledge and partnerships) at SWN.
This is because the effects of drinking clean water on people’s health and well-being become palpable in a few months alone.
Indeed, their focus on providing safe and affordable drinking water is crucial to public health.
Water and sanitation-related illnesses account for 70-80 per cent of the country’s diseases.
Over 100 million people in India still lack access to clean drinking water.
As SWN creates new corporate linkages and grows its clusters of iJal stations, it could signal the beginning of an important social revolution in the country — one drop of safe drinking water at a time.