IN RURAL INDIA
WATER IS LIFE
Water is the engine that drives the domestic, problems, skin allergies, and urinary tract
industrial, and agricultural progress of a infections are prevalent. Women must fetch
country, and increasing water scarcity in India water from a distance multiple times in a
has made water management a national day, causing physical discomfort and spinal
priority. With 16 percent of the world’s problems. Those in saline groundwater areas
population and only 4 percent of the world’s must purchase water from tankers at about
water resources, India is severely water- Rs. 1,000/month. Water scarcity conflicts
stressed.1 and informal water markets are on the rise.
Immediate solutions are needed for these
India is home to the highest number of rural seemingly intractable problems.
people in the world without access to clean
drinking water (63 million people, according Sehgal Foundation’s Water Management
to Water Aid reports) and the problem is Program confronts water scarcity in rural India
particularly severe in rural areas. Water levels because access to clean and safe drinking
are dropping rapidly due to over-exploitation water is a right for every individual. The team
and lack of groundwater recharging. India uses a community-based approach to project
is the highest user of groundwater in the implementation once a community expresses
world, filling 85 percent of rural demand a need and makes a request. A Rural Research
(more than 60 percent for crop irrigation),2 team conducts needs assessments and
consuming more than 70 percent of what baseline studies to assess applicable solutions.
is available, and only capturing 8 percent of
rainwater.3 Unregulated extraction and non- A Village Development Committee (VDC) is
replenishment has caused groundwater to set up at the beginning of each project. The
fall drastically and increase its levels of salinity, Sehgal Foundation team trains VDC members
chloride, and fluoride. on water literacy, conservation awareness, the
power of collective action, water structure
In addition, water contamination is a serious monitoring, and any technical aspects for
problem, giving rise to health and hygiene operation and maintenance. This group of
concerns. More than 70 percent of water opinion leaders, panchayat members, women,
consumed in rural India does not meet School Management Committee members,
WHO standards.4 Waterborne diseases and others is tasked with overseeing the
such as diarrhea, typhoid, jaundice, skeletal construction, including materials procurement,
1. Water sector in India. KPMG. See https://www.kpmg.de/docs/water_sector_in_india.pdf.
2. Why India needs to change the way it manages water resources, by Samar Lahiry, DownToEarth.
3. Recharging Aquifers: A Solution to Water Scarcity, Lalit Mohan Sharma. The Hindu, 6.29.18.
4. Water scarcity and security in India, by N. C. Hegde. India Water Portal.
further training other community members Replicable and scalable innovations by Sehgal
and ensuring community participation, Foundation experts include silt traps in soak
collecting community contributions for pits for convenient wastewater management.
future maintenance and water sharing, and Sustaining water infrastructures requires
obtaining government funds. Constitutionally, cleaning. The silt removed is used on farmers’
“water” is a state subject, but several central fields to improve soil health. Other innovations
government ministries have administrative include economic and efficient designs of
control on use and development of water storage structures, the creation of
water resources, therefore building good freshwater pockets within saline aquifers, and
governance awareness is a key component (as the JalKalp biosand filter for domestic use. To
it is with every Sehgal Foundation initiative) assure sustainability, all projects are tracked by
for the sustainability of any water programs the Rural Research team throughout and after
and structures. The sarpanch and panchayat completion.
members facilitate relationship synergies with
AWARENESS IS CRITICAL
The National Institute of Rural Development and demonstration models are displayed and
and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR), Ministry of Rural potential collaborations are explored. These serve
Development, Government of India, created the as capacity-building tools for rural villages from
Sehgal Foundation Water and Wastewater Resource across the country.
Center (SF-WWRC) at the Rural Technology Park
on the NIRDPR campus in Hyderabad. Corporates/ Work with communities to spread awareness of the
CSR donor communities, government, international importance of conserving water resources is a key
agencies, entrepreneurs, academia, NGOs, priority of Sehgal Foundation and a component
venture capitalists, angel investors, panchayati of all projects as well as the programming on the
raj institutions/rural communities, and the media foundation’s community radio station, Alfaz-e-
come together at the center to promote innovation Mewat (Rural Voices of Mewat). Programming
and entrepreneurship in rural areas. Exhibits include reaches hundreds of marginalized communities
rainwater harvesting models, technology for the in Nuh district of Haryana. Programs on water
creation of freshwater pockets in saline aquifers, awareness and water-related health topics provide
and drinking water adaptive technologies. Working vital information and resources to villagers.
Check dams, traditionally constructed with prevents silting of the dam’s storage basin and
increases its underground percolation potential.
brick and stone masonry, are powerful local water-
augmentation interventions. These barriers in Contour trenches are dug to collect and
watershed areas are built across the direction of
water flow on shallow seasonal drains and streams. conserve runoff water and soil and to minimize
During monsoon rains, excess water is retained silt. The key impacts of these structures include
behind the structure and percolates into the improvement of soil moisture and reduction in soil
ground to recharge the aquifer. Recharge wells are erosion in addition to groundwater recharge.
built at the basin of the check dams, which reach
up to the groundwater table in order for freshwater
to penetrate directly into the aquifer. Ownership
and maintenance of the structures rest with
In several cases where check dams were Harvesting culverts allow water to flow under
constructed or rejuvenated, the groundwater
depletion was arrested or reversed in only two a road, railroad, trail, or similar obstruction from one
years, and the quality of water was improved side to the other. Small masonry obstacles are built
almost to WHO-acceptable safety standards. Saline on the upstream side to check the water flow to a
or dry wells near these check dams began to certain level and allow it to overflow beyond that
provide freshwater. A ridge-to-valley approach is level. Collected water and water runoff percolate to
used so that the entire watershed promotes water recharge the groundwater.
and soil conservation.
Water stream velocity is reduced using various
obstacles, such as loose stone or gabion structures,
before water reaches the check dam, which
LOCAL WATER STORAGE UNITS
Abandoned dry wells are rejuvenated when Recharge wells are concrete tubes in the
rainwater is diverted into them after passing ground designed to collect rainwater runoff from
through a desilting filter made from stones and catchment areas or overflow from check dams,
gravel to prevent silt from entering the well. The water channels, or rooftops during monsoons.
wells can harvest a significant amount of water, since Water is pushed underground through these
they are structurally well-connected with the aquifer. recharge wells after passing through a filtration
Many once-dried abandoned wells now have water mechanism made of stones and gravel to prevent
because of a rise in the groundwater table. silt from entering the well. Wells must be built deep
enough to reach close to the aquifer, yet be above
Abandoned and underutilized the water table so that the surface water can be
traditional tanks due to heavy silting are filtered by passing thorough the soil before mixing
with underground water.
rejuvenated. These tanks are critical in regions
where there is no river, canal, or large lake, and Irrigation ponds are especially useful for
communities rely on groundwater and traditional
tanks intended to store rainwater for use in crop villages that have saline groundwater. During the
irrigation and to recharge local water sources. rainy season, fresh rainwater is collected from the
The fine silt deposited at the bottom of the tank surrounding catchment area and stored in a pond
prevents percolation of water into the ground to be used for irrigation. Most of these surface
and reduces the size of the storage area. The work water sources are seasonal, but they are
includes desilting the tanks to increase water important for small and marginal farmers who
storage capacity, strengthen the bund, desilt water cannot afford to purchase water during the critical
feeder channels, repair the sluice gate and overflow stress spells between rainfalls or during droughts.
structure, improve the catchment area with Clay content in the soil must be at least 20 percent
plantation, and improvement of the overall system. to hold water.
WATER COLLECTION RESTORES
Rainwater harvesting systems in schools of freshwater within the saline water. Pressure
from the surrounding saline water keeps the
affect school attendance, especially for girls, freshwater pocket intact. A hand pump is used to
without water facilities for drinking or sanitation. extract harvested rainwater, which passes through
Where groundwater is deep, rainwater from the a biosand filter that removes physical, suspended,
school roof is collected into a filtering tank through and biological contaminants. This model does not
interconnected pipes and stored. Water passes require cost-intensive water storage structures.
through biosand filters that remove suspended Now freshwater is available in villages that only
particles and bacterial contaminants from the have saline groundwater.
water. Excess rooftop rainwater is diverted into
a recharge well for groundwater recharging. Community water storage tanks make
Overflow wastewater from drinking water
faucets is diverted to an underground tank for water easily available to women (who have primary
horticultural use. By creating water availability in responsibility for obtaining water) and generate
schools, enrollment increases, academic records greater awareness about the judicious use of water.
improve, and clean water is available for drinking Government water to the villages is erratic and
and preparing midday meals, all of which result in travels through old, rusty pipes, leaving it unfit for
better overall health. drinking. Women walk two to three miles daily
to fetch water from a neighboring village with
A freshwater pocket within the saline an underground sweet-water pocket. Otherwise,
aquifer is created by an innovative rainwater water has to be purchased, which is costly. The
Sehgal Foundation team connects the government
harvesting model developed by Sehgal water supply lines to storage tanks that collect
Foundation. By extending the height and the water when the supply runs, enabling women to
depth of a recharge well—higher above ground, access water at their convenience. Water is passed
and deeper into the underground saline aquifer— through a biosand filter that removes biological
hydrostatic pressure increases within the well, contaminants prior to disbursal through taps.
allowing the harvested rainwater to form a “pocket”
Formation of freshwater pockets within saline aquifers
and use of
WATER PURIFICATION IMPROVES
Improvements to drinking water wells provide Sehgal Foundation offers stainless steel water
a hygienic source of drinking water for villagers storage containers so that filtered water in rural
in areas where wells located in the middle of areas does not become re-contaminated due to
agricultural fields often do not have a proper unhygienic containers or faulty water handling. A
platform or parapet wall and runoff from the fields safe, water storage container protects treated water
flows into the wells and contaminates the water from contamination during the storage period. The
during the rainy season. A four-feet-high masonry container is designed with a small opening with a lid
platform is constructed around the well with pulleys for filling and a wide opening for cleaning. Use of a
for extracting water, and a soak pit is built nearby to water dispensing tap avoids contact of stored water
dispose of the wastewater that accumulates around with hands, cups, or ladles. A wide base for stability is
the well. made of inert non-transparent material.
Biosand filters (JalKalp) for safe drinking water is To promote the delivery of filters and containers
an effective, sustainable, low-cost filter developed by to remote villages in a timely fashion, the Sehgal
Sehgal Foundation hydraulics engineers based on Foundation team nurtures relationships with local
technology invented by Dr. David Manz of University social entrepreneurs who can ensure supply and
of Calgary in Canada. This technology addresses the service locally. Building the capacities of other
single largest cause of ill health and death among stakeholders and NGOs on this technology increases
children in India (nearly a half-million child deaths the outreach of the product.
per year from diarrhea). Poor access to potable
water in villages forces people to draw drinking LID - This prevents
water from shallow hand pumps, unwanted contaminants
poorly maintained stand posts, from entering the filter.
open wells, ponds, and other
unhealthy water holes. JalKalp DIFFUSER - Raw water
is effective against pathogens poured through diffuser
such as E. coli, total coliforms, trickles down to prevent
parasites, microbes, and worms, damage to bio layer.
as well as eliminating turbidity,
iron, manganese, and arsenic SPOUT - Treated water
contamination. The stainless steel flows out from this end.
filter is only 4.5 kg in weight, with
no expensive parts to replace, CORRUGATED MARK-
and the cost is Rs. 3,000. The Mark indicated level of
only maintenance required is sand column.
intermittent cleaning of the
top layer of the accumulated SAND COLUMN- Sand
silt. Women are proponents of filters the biological
these water filters to protect contaminants in dirty
their families from waterborne water and turbidity from
COPPER FOIL- This acts
as final safeguard against
STONE GRAVEL- This
prevents sand to
enter with water into the
PREVENTS PATHOGEN BREEDING
Wastewater management structures are created in strategic locations to direct wastewater into the ground
where it is filtered naturally before it can contaminate the groundwater.
Soak pits are simple, low-cost, environmentally
friendly, household structures that percolate
wastewater into the ground. Because they can easily
become clogged with waste material, the Sehgal
Foundation team introduced an easy-to-clean silt
trap for the water to go through before entering the
soak pit. This small and readily accessible trap must be
cleaned every two to four weeks if used by a family
of six-to-ten members. Soak pits must be closed
during the heavy monsoon rain when excessive silt
can accumulate. Seeing the results of this innovation,
villagers have increased their demand for soak pits in
Soak wells are larger versions of soak pits that serve
a cluster of households. They are constructed to take
accumulated wastewater in village streets and direct
the water underground after being filtered.
Water literacy awareness is critical for addressing include effective water strategies, water quality,
the “low consciousness” of citizens about the judicious use and equitable distribution of water,
overall scarcity and economic value of water, which as well as the importance of natural resource
results in its waste and inefficient use, as stressed management. Awareness rallies are conducted in
by The National Water Policy 2012 and as evident the villages, and government officials are invited to
in the villages from the absence of taps in the participate. Sehgal Foundation’s community radio
public water supply outlets, unrepaired leakages, station programming and the water management
and other wasteful practices. structures themselves are used as educational tools.
The Water Management Program begins with An interactive curriculum for schoolchildren is
an action-oriented water literacy drive and designed around the global issues of water scarcity
periodically revisits different sections of the as well as local solutions. Raptly interested children
community, such as women, panchayats, the are found to be the most effective ambassadors
gram sabha, community leaders, youth, and for carrying the message of water management to
especially with schoolchildren. The session topics their communities, often in the form of street plays.
In 2017, under Jaldhara IV project, Sehgal Our village largely depends on groundwater. With
Foundation constructed two anicuts across Titron time, the water level in tube wells dropped; as a
rivulet flowing through our village. This resulted in result, our crops suffered and agriculture became
the water level in my well to rise considerably, with unprofitable. However, since the check dam has been
built, the water level in my tube well has risen sharply
which I now irrigate my fields. in just 3-4 months and will lead to better farm yields.
Sardar Singh Gujjar Ramlal
Gudachandraji village, Karauli, Rajasthan Sukkal Khola Jal Prabandhan Samiti (Water
Management Committee Member), Rawli village,
We dug a well in 2005 but financial constraints Our family is greatly benefited with the
led to its non-maintenance and deterioration with deepening of the pond. The pond stores
muddy puddles and water stagnation all around. more water now, which helps in irrigation
The broken wall of the well posed a huge risk of
and household activities. We worked
animals falling and contaminating the water. In together for the revival of the pond, which
2014, our well got a new face and it serves us in
instilled our sense of ownership.
Jungli Ram Meena Hamirpur village, Alwar, Rajasthan
Hamirpur village, Alwar, Rajasthan
Wastewater disposal has solved many
The water quality of my household’s 110-feet deep problems in our village. Water logging
hand pump was poor. The water was dark with high and dirty puddles caused great difficulty
levels of iron and had a peculiar stench because of for passersby. After the soak well was
bacterial contamination leading to illnesses every constructed, the streets are kept clean.
now and then. After I installed the JalKalp water filter,
I find that the filter does not require any operational, Abdul Razzak
replacement, or maintenance cost after installation. We Bazidpur village, Nuh, Haryana
have safe drinking water now. We learned about a new scientific concept and
water conservation model that works on our
Urmila school premises.
Chaitabazaar village, East Champaran, Bihar
Earlier we were dependent on irregular and unclean Malab school, Nuh, Haryana
tanker supply for drinking water. We used to go back
home to drink water and not come back.
Untka school, Nuh, Haryana
Water Digest Award for Best Water NGO, FICCI Water Award, NGO Category First
supported by UNESCO and the Ministry of Prize, New Delhi, India.
Water Resources, Government of India, for
providing rural drinking water solutions. Water Management Forum, Institution
of Engineers, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India,
Aarohan Social Innovation Award finalist Recognition for Outstanding Work in Water
for Sehgal Foundation’s rural drinking Conservation .
water technology, JalKalp water filter, by
Infosys Foundation, Bengaluru, India. 2012
2017 Bhaskar Foundation Jal Star Award, Dainik
Bhaskar Group, New Delhi, India.
FICCI Water Award, third prize for
Innovation in Water Technology, Creating 2010
Freshwater Pockets in Saline Aquifers.
National Groundwater Augmentation
Certificate of Appreciation for contribution Award, Government of India, Ministry of
to Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Water Resources, New Delhi, India.
Abhiyaan in district Alwar, Rajasthan.
Millennium Alliance (FICCI), India, Water Digest and UNESCO
Technology Development Board, Best Water NGO Award.
Department of Science of Technology,
Government of India, and USAID, New
Delhi, India, Millennium Alliance Award for
Outstanding Work on Pressurized Recharge
Wells for Creating Freshwater Pockets in
Saline Groundwater Areas.
SCALE, IMPACT, AND
REACH ARE ESCALATING
Holding Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social
Council), Sehgal Foundation is able to share its work related to the United Nations Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) with a global audience.
Corporate Social Responsibility activities and goals approved by Schedule VII Section 135 of the
Companies Act 2013 are strongly endorsed and supported by Sehgal Foundation.
As of 2019 Sehgal Foundation projects and initiatives have spread to 890 villages, 27 districts, and
8 states: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.
Sehgal Foundation invites partnerships with other individuals, corporates, government bodies, multilateral
organizations, and educational institutions to further the sustainable development work to achieve positive
social, economic, and environmental change across rural India.
Please contact [email protected]
S M SEHGAL FOUNDATION SEHGAL FOUNDATION
Plot No. 34, Sector 44, Institutional Area, Gurugram, 100 Court Ave, # 211, Des Moines, IA 50309-2256, USA
Haryana 122 003, India Tel: +1-515-288 0010, Fax: +1-515-288 4501,
Tel: +91-124-474 4100, Fax: +91-124-474 4123, Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
Sehgal Foundation is a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt private
S M Sehgal Foundation is a public, charitable trust foundation established in 1998.
registered in India since 1999.
www.smsfoundation.org Publication 2019.
CROP IMPROVEMENT RESEARCH
Building 303, Room # 9-13, ICRISAT, Patancheru,
Hyderabad, Telangana 502 324, India
Tel: +91-40-3071 3312, Fax: +91-40-3071 3044/75
Email: [email protected]