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India; Rainwater Harvesting And Groundwater Recharge


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India; Rainwater Harvesting And Groundwater Recharge

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India; Rainwater Harvesting And Groundwater Recharge

  1. 1. AGRICULTURE & WATERSDI-13 14/4Water and community development:Rainwater harvesting and ground-water rechargeA sustainable approach to human development at the global levelRobert Davies, International Business Leaders Forum & Bunker Roy, The Barefoot College, Rajasthan, IndiaThe following is based on a briefing paper prepared for a seminar hosted by The Prince of Wales International BusinessLeaders Forum (IBLF) in December 2004. The paper aims to present some ideas and practical applications with regards torainwater harvesting in India and other countries as well as public-private partnerships that can make a critical differenceto one of the greatest global challenges – access to safe drinking water.New world economyIndia is a fast growing market forconsumer goods, technology and globalinvestment. According to investmentbank Morgan Stanley (in “New Tigersof Asia”) the rise of India is tipped tobecome one of the most importanteconomic forces in the world and theworlds largest economy. According toresearch firm IDC (India Brand EquityFoundation), India will also be one of thethree leading IT markets in the AsiaPacific. But at the same time it has amajor social challenge of poverty, wherebusiness can play a key role in tacklingthis serious task along with communitybased partners. Increasingly businessis looking for ways to develop their Figure 1. Lack of adequate management leads to poor allocation of relationships, reputation andcommunity engagement, aligned to Most Indians have extremely limited rainwater harvesting, ground-waterthe social priorities of the new and unreliable access to what they need recharge and small-scale urbanIndian Congress Government and their most. Around three-quarters of the sanitation.Common Minimum Programme where population have no public sanitary There can also be a greater part fortheir commitment to rural development facilities (such as toilets). They decentralised solar power to meet basicis one of their highest priorities. experience a daily crisis. Many even die needs. According to the UK Financial Many national and international from it: microbes in their drinking Times Supply and demands, rainwatercompanies have both direct and indirect water kill every year more than one harvesting and communityinterests in, and impacts on, water in million Indian children. 700 million empowerment projects are one of thetheir products and processes water people still living in villages, and the most hopeful and cost effectivetreatment, purification, products that 200 million or so who constitute the solutions to water crisis whose solutionsrequire water, and water infrastructure urban poor lack access to safe water and have eluded Governments andand can benefit from practical, down to sanitation. The United Nations claims development agencies for decadesearth partnerships to channel resources, each person needs 30 to 50 litres a day because they have not taken it seriouslyskills and goodwill to meet the for their needs.development challenge. It is our belief that something very Meeting needs with Access to water for drinking and practical and inexpensive can and intelligent solutionssanitation is a central target in the UN should be done involving corporations There are many approaches to waterMillennium Development Goals (Target and donors, where the impact is felt access but rural and remote areas have10: to halve by 2015 the proportion of immediately on women and children distinct challenges and opportunities.people without safe access to drinking with a high impact on life expectancy One solution already tested is Rooftopwater). The stark fact is that in India and health and where the partnership Rainwater harvesting, which is a well80 per cent of the population simply can be sustainable. They can enter established traditional approach overlacks access to safe drinking water, but community partnerships for water hundreds of years, collecting naturalhelping solve this problem may not be access, using time tested, low cost, rainfall and channelling it intosuch an impossible task. decentralised methods for roof top underground tanks that can store andWWW.SUSTDEV.ORG 1
  2. 2. SDI-13 14/4WATER & SANITATION provide safe water for daily needs for materials. The financial accounts for the Why does business have an weeks and months. projects are sometimes painted in large The other low cost complementary columns of figures on the school walls. interest in access to water? solution is ground water recharge. By This demonstrates transparently the The answers are not complicated. constructing small dams across dry costs, and where the money went to, Investors need to demonstrate practical tributaries and riverbeds and allowing thus tackling the notorious corruption concern with one of India’s key the rainwater collected to percolate, that has come in the way of large public problems. Companies cannot prosper in it is possible to replenish wells and infrastructure projects. consumer markets that lack safe water aquifers. By channelling surface and suffer from attendant health rainwater into unused and dry open problems. Markets grow better in areas By channelling surface well served with water and with wells some several hundred feet deep, it is possible to revitalise the rainwater into unused and dry open healthier consumers. Many thousands of dry hand pumps wells some several hundred feet deep, it companies have direct experience and traditional open wells for is possible to revitalise the thousands of of water as a factor in production, irrigation. Local people can be and are major industrial users of trained to repair or maintain their dry hand pumps and traditional precious water supplies that demand own hand pumps. open wells for irrigation. a sustainable approach. Some are in the With the onset of so-called modern water business and benefit from diverse and large, if expensive and often To date there are many projects approaches to meeting needs in poor unreliable, public water infrastructure starting up, offering water at a fraction urban and rural communities. projects and technology, rainwater of the cost of water sellers and out of They can make a difference through harvesting in the main became scale water infrastructure projects. In entering practical partnerships offering unfashionable in public policy. It is being addition to the pioneering work of the a sustainable approach that is scalable. reintroduced on a local scale across a Barefoot College, the Jal Bhagirathi Philanthropic funds can be made more wide area by the Barefoot College in Foundation, Tarun Bharat Sangh, Wells effective, bringing long-term returns to Tilonia, Rajasthan, under the leadership for India and work of organisations communities. of Bunker Roy where a model approach such as WaterAid, together with How can business help? to roof top rainwater harvesting with the hygiene education work of Business can contribute by partnering community empowerment has been organisations such as Arpana, are projects at the location or area of developed and is being replicated more engaged in many projects. factories, plants and offices, as part widely. Roofs of schools and community What is needed to spread the vision, of market entry or new investments buildings are adapted to catch the provide technical assistance and training in India, as part of community infrequent and precious rainwater and for Barefoot engineers and builders, to programmes, or as an extension of channel it to underground tanks built in provide low cost finance for projects and employee engagement or philanthropic the foundations. Traditional knowledge, materials. A typical roof top rainwater- programmes. The potential role for local materials and community skills harvesting project in a remote rural business and donors is on four levels: have been applied in the construction of school to collect 100,000 litres would these tanks by Barefoot architects and cost a one-time investment of less than • Entering partnerships with this has given the community a sense of $10,000. This would provide drinking community organisations providing ownership. In turn this brings a water to about 40 children and cost effective and high return substantial community contribution in functioning toilets in a school for more donations to support the development voluntary labour, supervision and raw than five months in a drought region. of roof top rainwater harvesting; • Providing project funds for rainwater harvesting projects at the village level; • Providing funding to support training in hand-pump maintenance and technical assistance to spread the methods and techniques more widely; • Supporting decentralised sanitation and drinking water projects. Other areas of businesses involvement include companies engaging staff in direct support through fundraising, project visits and, where possible, technical support. Development funds can also be established to help channel resources for innovation and replication. Summary of seminar conclusions The International Business Leaders Forum workshop held at Clarence House in December 2004 included Figure 2. Shared water resources engage community participation. participants from organisations as2
  3. 3. SDI-13 14/4 WATER & SANITATIONdiverse as Alcan, Shell International,Coca-Cola,WaterAid, GlaxoSmithKlineand Wells for India and communityleaders from Rajasthan UNDP andUNICEF. Each made a variety ofcommitments to help and agreed withthe following conclusions:• Community-based solutions to water challenges, which draw upon local knowledge and skills and utilise traditional, low-cost and low- technology techniques;• Local ownership over projects, facilitated by consultation with local communities to give them an emotional and where possible, financial stake in project success; Figure 3. HRH, The Prince of Wales with Robert Davies and Bunker Roy.• Reducing local dependency by involving local authorities and villages Participants also identified a • Promotion of the business case for why companies should get at ‘planning’ as well as doing stages of need for: involved in the water issue. project and programme development, • Good examples of projects and and empowering local people by Our view is simple, the above makes partnerships, as well as opportunities providing them with the skills clear that there is much that business to see these examples in practice and required to sustain projects over the and donors can do and by choosing to to learn from, evaluate and understand long term; accept the challenge facing them, a the business model that drives them;• Integrating issues by merging the solution to the provision of clean water • Strong policy and regulatory for India and other countries could be concept of rainwater harvesting with frameworks that recognise the close at hand. Following the workshop, broader issue of watershed management interests of everyone involved (such as the feasibility of these ideas will and, similarly, analysing water access and control of excess groundwater use of be explored further, and IBLF will sanitation issues in terms of wider deep well digging) and take into facilitate greater business engagement implications for health, education and account the views and needs of civil in solutions and partnerships. energy (for example); society;• Training and capacity building • Analysis of finance implications. need to be delivered at the community How do you access funding for a level using organisations with grass project? What role should village and roots credibility to facilitate replication municipal finances play? of projects;• Multilateral partnerships that draw ABOUT THE AUTHORS ENQUIRIES upon the core competencies of Robert Davies is the founder Chief Executive International Business Leaders Forum all partners involved, and include Officer of The Prince of Wales International Tel: +44 (0)20 7467 3600 mechanisms for monitoring successes/ Business Leaders Forum, and has lead its activities E-mail: failures, managing conflicts and maintaining relationships in the long since 1990 with global corporations promoting Web site: term; responsible business practices globally to benefit business and society. In turn this is helping to Global Rainwater Harvesting Collective• The private sector to be part of achieve social, economic and environmentally E-mail: the solution rather than the problem bringing core competences, contributing sustainable development, particularly in new and Web site: funding mechanisms and adopting emerging market economies. The IBLF currently projects within the areas of their has over 80 corporate members and is active in For more information on rainwater harvesting and facilities and operations; partnerships for development in over 50 countries. how to help through funding or direct involvement• Using schools, which provide both Bunker Roy has been living and working in the see or a symbolic starting point (because small village of Tilonia for the last 34 years.The they are public buildings) and an Barefoot College which he started is the only environment for pushing concepts College in India built by the rural poor for the rural and technologies as an integrated part poor. The idea was to identify the poorest of the of learning in the curricula, as the focus for projects; poor unemployed and unemployable youth from remote villages who are cop outs, wash outs and• Funding mechanisms need to be drop outs and train them to be competent and explored that enable projects to be scaled, with more precise financial confident “barefoot” water and solarengineers, costings and specifications and a teachers, doctors, communicators, architects and variety of approaches to pay back computer programmers. The barefoot approach including micro-credit, community has been replicated in 13 States of India. contributions etc.WWW.SUSTDEV.ORG 3