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How DM Project in India Filled Empty Water Pots

BP Agrawal's picture

BP Agrawal is a double Development Marketplace winner.  He won in 2006 with his Sustainable Rainwater Harvesting project and in 2007 with Walk-In Clinic for the Masses. This is being reposted on the occasion of Blog Action Day 2010.

Visit Sardarpura, a sleepy Indian village 150 km (93 miles) southwest of New Delhi.  Women have gathered at the village square. They are tapping empty matkas (earthen water pots) to produce melodious beats. One is humming the “lament of bride": "Dhola thare desh men, moti marvan aant.  Daroo milti mokali, paani ki koni chhant."

Oh, Beloved!
In your land
Not a drop of water 
Brides have to fetch water from miles
It is hard to survive but for your love
Thus laments a bride.

 Sudden commotion drowns the melody. Children start running in the dusty streets and yelling “Pani Aagayaa. Paani Aagayaa” (Water has come! Water has come!). Women wrapped in vibrant colors rush with their matkas resting on their waists. The water tanker had just arrived — after two weeks.
That is the perennial scarcity of drinking water in rural India!


Over six years, Sustainable Innovations perfected Aakash Ganga, a systemically sustainable domestic rainwater harvesting system, by harvesting innovations in engineering, entrepreneurship, business, and social policy. Aakash Ganga was implemented with funding from World Bank, private donors, and community contributions in six villages with aggregate population of 10,000. AG rents the rooftops for a fee. The rainwater is channeled, through gutters and pipes, to a network of underground storage reservoirs.  These reservoirs vary in size from 25,000 liters to several hundred thousand liters. The cost of capturing and storing rainwater is about $0.002 per liter. The capital layout is $2-$3 per person per year
Now the Government of India has become keenly interested in scaling up Aakash Ganga in the region -– several thousand villages -– as a social enterprise or public-private-community partnership. The U.N. Development Programs (UNDP) has given a grant to plan Aakash Ganga’s implementation in Nagaur district with several hundred villages, Rajasthan. 

Since the roof area is not enough to provide water security, 40 liters per person per day, we are looking for low-cost technologies to build stretchable roofs that can open as an umbrella or canopy.  After the rainy season, lasting 45 days, the “umbrellas” can be folded and stored.

Have any ideas to share with us? Write to us at [email protected]

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