Getting villagers gossiping on Safe water issues

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Can water sensors within villagers enable a local communication channel transforming the way in which rural India looks at safe drinking water. Meet Pradeep Balkunde, one of the four winners of the first round of the Safe water crusade, who is charged up with this idea.

Being a chemistry graduate, Pradeep comes with experience in the field of water purification and water quality analysis. Initially, he worked with the TATA Research Development and Design Centre in Pune for 4.5 years to develop technology for low cost household water filters for arsenic and fluoride among others. He now works with Foundation for Environmental Monitoring (FFEM) that innovates on low cost sensors for water and soil.

According to Pradeep, people in villages are still drinking contaminated water and suffering from various diseases like skeletal fluorosis and various types of cancers. This was his motivation to apply for the Safe water crusade fellowship. He says “My experience in the field of water purification and water quality analysis will be helpful to society to solve the water contamination problem to an extent”.

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).

Through this fellowship, Pradeep’s idea is to create a system by using FFEM’s water sensor kits and improve awareness among people in the villages about water sources which has less contamination or no contamination, so that those sources could be taken up for drinking. He says “this idea helps people to avoid diseases which is caused due to contamination of drinking water”.

By getting local communication channels on Safe drinking water, Pradeep hopes to get local ‘gossip’ going on these important issues. Village water operators, Panchayat and other local key persons becomes the channels through which such information passes.

Water information needs to occupy extensive mind space in people’s minds. Pradeep’s idea will help in making that happen.

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