Mumbai, November 9, 2020, India: Standard Chartered Bank and Piramal Sarvajal will be more than doubling their commitment to providing everyday access to safe drinking water to 300,000 people from the current 139,000 people. This will be achieved by setting up decentralised drinking water solutions and enhancing water security in remote rural areas across five States over the next three years.
This partnership started three years back primarily committing itself to address access and quality issues in drinking water space in remote rural areas. The solution includes decentralised water purification units and 24×7, solar-powered water ATMs, along-with community awareness and maintenance services as well as real-time online monitoring. The focus has always been on not only creating new community assets but also on making sure that there is an in-built sustainability mechanism. These projects are in water-quality affected areas that were identified as under-served. Over the last three years, the partnership has covered 64 such locations serving 139,000 people daily.
Based on the learnings, the upcoming three-year project will focus on components of water conservation, community ownership and greater participation of women, while continuing to include decentralised safe drinking water solutions. This integrated water management solution will be implemented across 75 villages, half of which will be in aspirational districts, spread over the states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Aspirational districts are backward districts in India, as identified by NITI Aayog, in terms of basic amenities, infrastructure facilities, health facilities, standards of living, etc.
Dr Swati Piramal, Vice-Chairperson, Piramal Group and Director Piramal Foundation, said, “We are pleased to have partnered with Standard Chartered to provide safe and affordable drinking water to marginalised sections of society, especially during such unprecedented times. At Piramal Group, we are driven by our core purpose of Doing Well and Doing Good and believe in collaborating with like-minded partners to create transformational impact at scale. We remain committed in our endeavour to serve the unserved and underserved sections of society, as we continue working in remote geographies across the country.”
Commenting on the project, Zarin Daruwala, CEO, India, Standard Chartered Bank, said, “Daily access to safe drinking water is one of the key challenges faced by people in remote rural areas, something that we take for granted but which for them, especially women is a daily drudgery. Our partnership with Piramal Sarvajal and Enable Health Society aims to address such specific challenges by providing innovative solutions on the ground to the last mile communities. One of the ways in which we bring our ‘Here for good’ brand promise to life is by facilitating real change in the communities in the markets we operate in.”
Centrally, this phase will empower communities by creating appropriate institutional mechanism at the local level such as Village Water Committees (VWCs) to undertake water budgeting. This will build community mobilisation to conserve water, reduce wastage and ensure long term sustainability. Women would be playing a key role in the VWCs. while addressing water challenges, sustainability and community ownership would underpin the initiative.
Piramal Sarvajal has been a pioneer in leveraging technology for greater reliability and accountability of its decentralised programmes: even the water conservation solution includes IoT based management of the storage unit and the borewell recharge structure. The sensors will provide data on local water table showing water stress and over the years document water conservation outcomes.
The impact study by Enable Health Society finds that beneficiaries, specifically women, who previously would travel 1-2 kilometres every day to fetch drinking water, recognise the time and energy saved because of easy access of potable water. The study has also observed that there has been a 70 per cent increase in the awareness levels of health benefits of safe drinking water. Impact assessment data shows over 40 per cent lesser medical expenses of Sarvajal users as compared to the non-users over a six-month period.