Empowering rural India with its own water data
In an age of big data generation, we have someone who believes in ‘small data’. Amit Tandon believes that communities can effectively manage their water supplies if they are enabled with their own local water data. The hope is that it can bring a revolutionary change in the way people take a decision with respect to their water resources and enhance access to safe drinking water.
Amit is one of the of winners of the first round of the Safe water crusade fellowship programme. The ‘Safe Water Crusade’ Fellowship program is initiated to motivate India’s brightest and committed individuals across colleges, universities, NGOs, research organisations, consultants and practitioners with a shared purpose to build a people’s movement on safe water access and good health for all. This fellowship awards 4 people with 1 lakh INR each to test their ideas in solving real issues in the drinking water sector.
This fellowship is an action based program where the fellows get exposed to the diverse set of actors who are working on this shared purpose and support the fellows to realise their ideas. These fellowships are being supported by the European Union (EU), through the work of the two water quality networks i.e. INREM Foundation (Fluoride) and SaciWATERs (Arsenic).
According to Amit, the crucial challenge within the water sector in India is the lack of good quality water data. The challenge within the water data consists of granularity of water data, frequency, the methodology of data collection, accuracy, integration of various parameters such as water quality, weather, groundwater etc and sharing the information with the citizen. Such challenges require integrated monitoring and information dissemination system and also a supportive policy environment that supports equitable access to water data. This is his motivation to apply for this fellowship.
The core of Amit’s idea lies in strengthening Water Democracy by creating actionable knowledge from local information, by empowering citizen from data they trust and by strengthening large data sets for better governance. He says “The designed integrated monitoring information system shall focus on creating, collecting and disseminating small data, which is locally relevant and is actionable information by the communities”.
When water data goes back to people, it becomes their wealth. It will be at the core of people’s action on conserving water, and helping Safe drinking water to all. Amit’s idea is at the forefront of making this happen.