June 10, 2014

Entrepreneur Partners with His Community to Open a Safe Water Station

Subhash Reddy was introduced to one of Safe Water Network’s community-led water stations while visiting a friend in the village of Pathipaka in Telangana. 

His friend, who worked with our local partner MARI, gave him a tour of our station. Subhash was impressed with how the station provided safe, affordable water to the villagers while also creating opportunities for people interested in learning new skills and starting businesses. 

Subhash had spent two years at the local Industrial Training Institute and owned an emu bird farming business. He was also a member of the local farmer’s cooperative society. He bought safe water for his business from a local nonprofit-sponsored water system which operated only intermittently. Another nearby system, run by the community, had stopped working because it lacked the funds and skills to maintain it.

As an entrepreneur, Subhash understood that if he had trouble with access to safe water, others in his village of Kothapally must also be in need. 

Real-Life Impact

What Subhash lacked in funds, he made up for in initiative. He approached Safe Water Network with an idea to revitalize his village’s defunct community system. We presented him with several technical options and encouraged him to meet with his village leaders to see if there was a way for them to work together. 

After meeting with local leaders, Subhash determined that the village was willing to pay a reasonable amount for safe water—Rs 4/20 liters (7 US¢ for five gallons). With the help of Safe Water Network and its local partners, Subhash received technical assistance as well as the equipment required to get the plant operational. Safe Water Network also provided Subhash a revolving no-interest loan that covered the cost of the equipment with an eight-year payback.

Subhash enrolled in Safe Water Network’s comprehensive training program covering all aspects of running a water system, including operations, maintenance, distribution and bookkeeping. The training also included how to run community health and education programs.

Once the station was open, Subhash became a community advocate of safe water usage to grow demand to cover his operating costs and earn enough to pay back his no-interest loan. At the same time, he maintained his agreement with the community to ensure that his water was affordably priced.

Building Local Capability

After six months of operation, 89% of the 700 households in Subhash’s village had enrolled to purchase water from the station. However, though families were thrilled to once again have access to safe, affordable drinking water, not everyone was buying on a regular basis. 

To achieve more consistent purchasing, Safe Water Network helped Subhash devise an expanded distribution strategy drawing upon options developed at some of our other community-led water stations. Subhash invested an additional Rs 8,000 ($1,200) for a used minivan for home deliveries, pricing this water higher at Rs 8/20 liters to cover the added expense of delivery. 

Volume increased by 30%, giving Subhash the resources and confidence to further expand his distribution area. He is now in discussion with the Gram Panchayat of the neighboring village of Damera to provide safe water for both populations. 

Learn More

Safe Water Network is committed to creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs like Subhash so that more communities can have reliable access to safe, affordable water. 

For further information on how Safe Water Network is helping communities own and operate water systems in India, contact: 

Poonam Sewak
psewak@safewaternetwork.org