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Smart Stormwater Management: India

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on December 12th, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute

From “A Success Story in Parched India” by Kamaria Greenfield:

Wankute, a tiny village located high in the Sahyadri mountain range of the Maharashtra state of India, was dry and near-barren in the 1990s. Agriculture was limited to crops that could withstand hot temperate and little water, such as millet and certain legumes. The men worked outside of the village to bring in enough income for their families. Women sometimes walked for a kilometer and a half to obtain the day’s water. During the three months of annual, inevitable drought, the villagers would pay to have water tankers come in.

[…]

In 2003, the residents heard about the success of watershed development in similar nearby villages and wanted to try it for themselves. The main problem in Wankute was not that there was no rainfall, but that the limited 450 millimeters that fell every year did so during a short period of time, usually for less than three weeks. To transform their community, the village partnered with the Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR), a not-for-profit NGO that works in several Indian states, to bring much-needed water and prosperity to Wankute.

Since 1996, WOTR has conducted 747 watershed projects in India. The first of its eleven developmental sectors is a commitment to Integrated Water Resources Management. Efforts were at first met with some skepticism and resistance. Villagers were especially uneasy when WOTR mandated a ban on tree felling and the free grazing of cattle. But this was necessary for the planting of new trees and grasses, which would hold the soil and moisture in place. The main idea of the watershed development in Wankute was to build a water treatment structure composed of bunds (ridges and ditches in the soil) and check dams.

Today, the results are clear. The water tables have risen significantly and the villagers have not imported tankers for water since the project was finished. The vegetation planted eight years ago continues to thrive on the hillsides. And overall employment has increased because farmers can work with their crops for eight months out of the year instead of a meager three. A wide variety of more water-intensive crops now flourish, including wheat, tomato, onion, and potato. Because of this bounty, the export of foodstuffs and the import of agricultural labor have both increased. In addition to agricultural benefits, the watershed development has also had health and social benefits for the village. There is now no shortage of potable water, reducing the risk of waterborne illnesses such as cholera and dysentery. With their greater total income, the villagers built a new community hall, two new schools, a public health center, 150 latrines, and more roads for better transportation of goods. The women of Wankute have formed nine different self-help groups and invested in alternative energy methods such as solar lampsbecause they can no longer cut down trees for fuel. Furthermore, because labor and resources are now both readily available in the village, men can work locally and families are more physically intact. The introduction of watershed development has had far-reaching effects that, ten or fifteen years ago, neither the people of Wankute nor the world at large could have imagined.

Read the full article by Kamaria Greenfield for Nourishing the Planet.


Using ICT for Water Management in India

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on June 21st, 2011

Source: Springwise

From In India, mobile water tracking system updates local residents:

The reliability of water supply is a major issue for millions of households in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Although water is meant to be delivered to communities via a piped supply on a rotational schedule, the water often isn’t being piped when it should be — leaving families waiting indefinitely for supplies. Hoping to provide a solution, we recently came across NextDrop.

The NextDrop system, designed and set up by a team of Stanford and Berkeley graduate students, began operations in Hubli, India last year, having won a grant from the Gates Foundation, according to a report on MobileActive.org. In order to communicate with residents when the water is available, valvemen call the NextDrop interactive voice response system upon opening their neighborhood valves. NextDrop then texts the inhabitants of the area the news that water is being piped 30 – 60 minutes before it arrives, as well as texting the engineers at the utility live data on the water delivery. Residents are then contacted randomly to verify the accuracy of the data supplied by the valvemen.If there is any conflict between the data supplied by the valvemen and the residents, the engineers are alerted. These engineers are also able to step in if the valves are not initially reported open when they should be.

According to mobileactive.org, the Hubli pilot initially launched with 180 participating families across five water valve districts in Hubli, and NextDrop now plan to go on and expand to encompass 1000 households covering 25 valve areas over the next year. Crowdsourcing may be one of the simplest ways of solving social problems we know of; relying on the participation of those it benefits. What other social problem could you apply the model to?

Read the full article on Springwise for related articles. or visit NextDrop to find out more

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Social Enterprise for Water Harvesting

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 24th, 2011

Source: Sustainable Innovations, via Springwise

Aakash Ganga, River from Sky, is a domestic rainwater harvesting system [in Rajasthan]. It channels rooftop rainwater from every house in a community, through gutters and pipes, to a network of multi-tier underground reservoirs as shown below.

Aakash Ganga’s strategy is to form public-private-community partnership or social enterprise to provide drinking water to the people. It rents roofs from home owners or acquires rights to harvest their rooftop rainwater. The local government or Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) leases, at no cost, about 10,000 M2 land next to the shared community reservoir. A social takes care of the post-implementation upkeep and holistic sustainability ? social, cultural, economic, institutional, political, operational, and ecological. One half of the harvested rooftop rainwater is stored in the reservoir attached to the house for the exclusive use of the home owner. The other half flows to the shared community reservoir. People who live under thatched roofs or who cannot afford to have their own reservoirs take water from the shared reservoir.

Read about the Social, Engineering and Place-making innovations associated with this project on the Sustainable Innovations website http://si-usa.org/projects/rainwater-harvesting/
Check out some great photos from the project on flickr: Life Post Aakash Ganga Implementation (all copyright or I’d put some up here).


Daily Dump: Waste Management Design

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 1st, 2010

Via Worldchanging

From the case study by Bryan Boyer & Justin W. Cook for Helsinki Design Lab:

With a background in entrepreneurship, and experience co-founding one of India’s leading design schools, Poonam Bir Kasturi was no stranger to big challenges when she began to take note of the amount of waste filling Bangalore’s streets. Running a business and even creating a new school from scratch were successful projects built on Kasturi’s creativity and intellect, but as structural challenges, they were known quantities—familiar institutions for which many models existed. To address her growing interest in Bangalore’s waste, Kasturi would have to redefine the boundaries of the problem, while also designing the right kind of approach to the challenge. With the ultimate goal of improving India’s ability to manage its waste, Kasturi created the Daily Dump, a business that offers composting and recycling products and services actionable on an individual level, yet primed for coordination in a larger network of action. In the wake of failures left by many top-heavy, centralized approaches to waste management, The Daily Dump’s bottom-up, instant on solution is a powerful alternative.

At a basic level, the efficacy of waste management depends on three key factors: the attitude of individuals, the practices that those individuals engage in, and the extent to which municipal services enable and support these practices and attitudes. Failure in any one of these areas damages a community’s ability to manage their waste. Similarly, isolated accomplishments within one part of the system will not yield significant results without coordinated accomplishments on the other factors.

The Daily Dump was born out of recognition that Bangalore was a messier city for all of its growth and that the municipality and various NGOs attempting to fix the situation were stumbling. Due to evident corruption and bureaucratic sluggishness, efforts to enhance the centralized waste infrastructure were deemed by Kasturi as an important long-term effort, but one in need of a more immediate counterpart.

With municipal services faltering, Kasturi’s focus turned to attitudes and practices. The Daily Dump was established as a for-profit social enterprise in order to give the organization a high degree of flexibility in pursuing their goal of improving urban waste management in India. Free from any obligation to donors, the organization is able to change tack quickly to act on opportunities as they emerge. Using the market as a persistent reality check, the growth of the Daily Dump comes at a relatively slow pace but is fundamentally durable and road tested.

From the outset, the Daily Dump was designed as a business with three critical aspects: it would promote waste management generally rather than its own products, it would provide education in addition to tools, and it would offer a “clone” model which allows like-minded parties to duplicate the business.

Read the full case study on Helsinki Design Lab.