Today I’d like to highlight the amazing work of Naandi Foundation. Through the Naandi Safe Drinking Water project, thousands of poor people that had been living for generations with the devastating health implications of drinking untreated ground water, now have on-going, affordable access to clean water. This is a massive problem throughout India and much of the Developing world.
Families who have been living in resignation with the risks of drinking and using contaminated water everyday, who gave Naandi insights that helped create the Community Safe Drinking Water System (CSWS) for bringing safe drinking water to villages.
The solution is incredibly simple, accessible and fundamentally sustainable.
All they [poor communities] wanted was a suitable technology, facilitation of its transfer to the villages, affordability of using the technology so that everyone could drink and use safe water equitably, and a guarantee that the technology will sustain.
The true innovation developed by Naandi is not in their ultra-low cost provision of safe drinking water, nor their enagement with the local community. It is their ability to develop partnerships across private business, international philanthropy, government and local villagers.
20 per cent of the capital cost for setting up a CSWS is raised by Naandi from the village either through contributions of an elected representative, or from personal contributions of villagers, or philanthropists (including NRIs), the rest is raised through an innovative long-term debt given by Indian commercial banks to WaterHealth International (the debt arrangement extended by the commercial banks is partly underwritten by the Gates Foundation through their grantee Acumen Fund, a US based charity). This is repaid through very affordable community user fees, which is collected as water purification cess on a daily basis.
However, to achieve this has required a lot of work to change villager’s long held perceptions on water use. To develop a social business model whereby villagers pay a small and affordable, yet crucial fee for safe drinking water. Naandi’s success in this shows how it can be done… how social business models can affect extended positive change in sustainable human development.
To lead the much required Behaviour Change in terms of – encouraging communities to drink safe water, accessing this water through payment of a nominal user fee, linking the consumption of this water through promoting healthier lifestyles, and encouraging the adoption of better sanitation and hygienic practices – is attempted through active community interface of the Safe Water Promoter, the field-based crusader from Naandi.
When the THINK micro team (through UTS BUiLD) visited Naandi in July 2011, the organisation was in the process of implementing this fee. By creating a self-sustaining revenue model Naandi can reduce their reliance on charitable funding, government grants and insulate themselves from changes in priorities from external parties. Furthermore, this revenue allows Naandi to reach more poor villages and extend their network.
For more information on Naandi and the Safe Drinking Water project…