Sensing the reach of India’s vast rural water pipelines

WhatsApp Image 2019-01-10 at 11.59.26

Only one in every 3 rural Indians have access to piped water supply. Massive regional water supply programmes are underway across many Indian states, but there is no monitoring of whether this water is reaching people and if it is safe for them. One person wants to change this.

Rama Chandrudu comes with a vast experience of working with Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN), whose work is to influence the Watershed Programs in the drought prone areas for economic improvement of the poor, women and marginalized rural sections. He is one of the four winners of the first round of the ‘Safe water Crusade’.

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).

Rama Chandrudu’s experience on drinking water monitoring has led to this belief, he says “civil society organizations (CSOs)/ leaders in villages and towns are not equipped to monitor the performance of large scale development projects/ service infrastructure. This is because they are too complex for them to engage. In the absence of real time data/ monitoring system, the decisions on water supply systems for investments, operational arrangements, priorities are guided by other interests”. This had led to failure of many multi village schemes.

Rama believes that it is important that CSOs or Govt. departments or towns or citizens have necessary tools/ opportunities to interface with decision making systems on drinking water supply systems for their sustainability. Rama’s vision is on creating a system for real time monitoring and he says “I envision myself as creator/ designer of this real time monitoring system (of drinking water systems) by communities and support the decision making process at Gram Panchayat/ District Level on solving problems of drinking water systems in the country”

We need trustworthy information in the public domain on what each rural Indian is drinking. Rama Chandrudu’s idea will help enable this transparency in larger rural water supply schemes. That will go a long way in ensuring that every person in rural India gets safe drinking water every day.

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