Getting Water to All
Nov 13, 2015
by Priyanka Chopra<br /> and Anand Shah
Access to clean drinking water is a critical developing world problem. Whereas most partsof the developed world have extensive, grid-based water delivery infrastructures, most developing countries are unable to finance and build similarly vast networks.
India is one of these countries. There, the lack of a reliable clean water system is a major contributor to water-borne diseases like diarrhea, which proves fatal for 500,000 Indians each year. But that number could be reduced by nearly 40 percent if people had access to treated drinking water.
In trying to devise a solution, social enterprise Sarvajal seized on two key words: drinking water. Only a small portion of total household water consumption is used for cooking or drinking, meaning that large and costly infrastructure projects are not necessary to fulfill people's immediate daily needs. Indeed, many wealthy households in India rely on in-home filtration systems that treat only what they intend to consume.
Many communities in India cannot afford in-home taps, much less in-home filters, however. Sarvajal - which means "water for all" in Sanskrit - saw an opportunity to build a service around filtering and selling clean water within poor village communities in India, ensuring that the country's more vulnerable populations would also be able to tap what they need when they need it.
This case study explores the evolution of Sarvajal's initial business idea into the development of an innovative technical product that can be run, used and maintained by community locals.