There are approximately 650,000 villages in India with poor, unhealthy water supplies: a major cause of infant and child mortality. For those surviving, unhealthy water causes chronic illness, saps energy and impacts on all other areas of life. Although household water purifying units are available that produce small amounts of drinking water, the cost of purchase and operation, as well as the need for a reliable electricity supply, puts them out of reach for all but the affluent in India. Clean water is the key not only to improving the humanitarian aspects of village life but also to unlocking economic potential. This includes better allocation of productive hours otherwise spent hauling water, usually by women.
Site Procurement and Management
Identifying areas of need; identifying suitable sites; negotiating with stakeholders on-site; contracting in a way that fulfills the Project's health objectives; securing the units and the commitment of local stakeholders to protecting that security; all of these are functions that require local knowledge, experience and cultural sensitivity. These functions are, in part, non-commercial though they require a “business-like” approach. And they entail a cost.
El-Shaddai in India has been identified as a suitable partner for the Project. They provide shelter, healthcare, education and vocational training for abandoned, orphaned and neglected children in urban areas. It has also established community-building activities in poorer inland villages both to alleviate harsh conditions of life in those villages and to help those villages provide a more viable life for villagers, rather than their being forced to migrate to join the tens of millions inhabiting appalling conditions in urban slums.
El-Shaddai will oversee the selection of suitable sites and contracting of responsible parties in villages to provide security for the ongoing operation of each unit. The elected participants will be responsible for the maintenance and operation of the water purifying unit, and also manage the distribution of clean water to the surrounding community for a small fee, sufficient to cover ongoing energy costs and maintenance. El-Shaddai's maxim, after many years of experience in the field, is that community assets should not be provided completely free of charge to those able to pay. They have found that a small contribution from the recipients of (heavily) subsidized assets makes those assets more highly valued by the local community, encourages a sense of ownership, and helps ensure a long life for a project. This approach is substantiated by extensive research.
The jointly developed Australian/Indian aqua.mini unit, provides 2,500 litres of water for every hour of operation with very low levels of energy input. The units are cost-effective with simple proven reliable technology, based on filtration to remove suspended solids, colour and smell, and dosing to remove bacteria and other dangerous impurities. The cost per litre of 2,500 litres per hour of drinking quality water produced by each unit is a fraction of a cent.
Each unit installed will provide 30,000 to 45,000 litres each day (per 12 to 18 hours of running time) of drinking, cooking and washing water to around 300 to 450 villagers and schoolchildren (based on the Indian standard of 100 litres per person per day).
This is an exciting project that provides a radical improvement to healthcare in village communities across India via the availability of clean water.
As such, the project goes beyond some of the limitations of short-term charity campaigns to provide a long-term social benefit to everyone involved.