Building on the success of last year’s event in New Delhi that brought together India’s key water-sector stakeholders, this year’s forum focused on Partnering for Sustainable Scale in Community Safe Water Solutions. The event explored the potential for Public-Private Partnerships to address the safe-water needs of the many millions of families residing in the state of Telangana.
Participants included representatives from the Telangana government, Community Safe Water Solution (CSWS) implementers, corporations, Public Sector Undertakings (government-owned entities/PSUs) and civil society (NGOs).
The keynote address was delivered by the Hon’ble Sri (Dr.) Thatikonda Rajaiah, Deputy Chief Minister of Telangana. He spoke about the government’s policy objectives towards encouraging social and private sector participation in expanding safe water access to improve the health of citizens. He noted the positive impact safe water has on a community’s health and he encouraged the implementation of more awareness programs to improve people’s knowledge about how safe water reduces disease.
The valedictory address was delivered by the Minister of IT and Panchayat Raj & IT, Mr. K.T. Rama Rao. In his speech he stated that providing safe water to those in need was the State government’s number one priority and emphasized the Government’s commitment to providing household connections to all.
The half-day event included two break-out sessions and a presentation on Safe Water Network’s India Sector Review: Community Safe Water Solutions. This report, officially released at the Forum, was the culmination of a year-long initiative comprised of extensive research into the need for community-based solutions in rural India. Led by Safe Water Network, in collaboration with our knowledge partners, Accenture & Tata Strategic Management Group, the report was underwritten by a grant from Merck Foundation.
CSWS leaders from eHealthpoint, Naandi, Waterlife and Waterhealth India, each with initiatives highlighted in the India Sector Review, and part of a Forum panel, addressed the need to find solutions that can scale sustainably.
Other speakers at Safe Water Network’s Beyond the Pipe Forum included additional representatives from the Government of Telangana, NABARD, PepsiCo, Accenture, Naandi Foundation, Sarjaval, Waterlife India, USAID, and NIRD.
India Sector Review
Safe Water Network’s India Sector Review provides a comprehensive survey of existing community safe water stations, examining in detail ten specific projects sponsored by different organizations. The report is part of a broader commitment by Safe Water Network to establish an evidence-base of decentralized water systems to determine cost-effective options to help solve the global water crisis. Safe Water Network is also committed to fostering best practice and the India Sector Review is one of a number of publications issued each year by the organization to address the challenges of sustaining community-based water systems.
The India Sector Review places CSWSs into three key categories: public private partnerships, community-managed systems and private operators/entrepreneurs. The report examines the pros and cons for each approach and identifies ways to enhance each model to ensure fair and equitable access, reliability and sustainability. The report estimates that there are approximately 10,000 CSWS’s in operation today, but that the potential of a half a million may be required to meet the need of India’s communities.
“We knew the drinking water problem was vast, and that decentralized water systems were providing safe water to some communities,” said PepsiCo’s Executive Director Vivek Bharati. “But this report illustrates how CSWSs can play a larger role in solving India’s water challenges, as well as the hurdles still to overcome.”
Safe Water Network released the report at our Beyond the Pipe Forum to ensure that India’s key water-sector stakeholders had the opportunity to hear an overview presentation and leave with the review in hand. The presentation included a call for collaboration to harness the collective resources of the many stakeholders in India to accelerate progress so that India can get safe water to more communities faster.
Jiji Mammen, chief general manager from NABARD, India’s apex bank for rural credit and development, said funding is available to scale CWSCs, but that sustainable success requires community involvement in all aspects of the operation.
Leaders from eHealthpoint, Naandi, Waterlife and Waterhealth India, each with projects highlighted in the Sector Review, were part of a panel at the Forum. Each addressed the need to find solutions that can scale successfully.
Research has already started on next year’s edition of the India Sector Review, underwritten by an additional grant from Merck Foundation. The objective is to build upon the data and insights gleaned from this year’s report so as to chart progress so that India’s sector leaders can successfully refine efforts to deliver sustainable solutions.