Rural India faces several problems – from gender discrimination and lack of women empowerment to lack of health awareness and more. While state governments and various organisations have been stepping up in their effort to address these, it is seemingly impossible to solve the problems of every nook and cranny of the rural areas. In its bid to at least solve drinking water problem, Safe Water Network India has rolled out a CSR-supported programme in 2016, turning women from mere consumers to water entrepreneurs by hiring them in the iJal supply chain.
Sixty year old Surekha Gadpori hails from one of the most socially and economically disadvantaged areas of Hyderabad. Leveraging her social skills, she joined the growing ranks of water aunties and entrepreneurs three years back, who have been actively involved in dispensing safe drinking water to their community. She has been selling treated water from her iJal station set up by Honeywell Hometown Solutions Foundation, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board and USAID in association with Safe Water Network India. Her work as a water entrepreneur also involves spreading awareness about water safety on community level.
Meanwhile, in a remote village in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district, where parents had to frequently take their children to the doctor due to consumption of untreated water, water aunty Pushpa Bhoyer has emerged as a ray of hope, who has been instrumental in significantly reducing such cases of such water-borne diseases.
Through their association with Safe Water Network, women like Pushpa and Surekha have not only been able to transform people’s lives but also gain recognition within their community. “I didn’t step out of the house much before I took up this task despite being a gram panchayat member. Since I started visiting houses and nearby villages to talk about water safety with other water aunties, they know I am coming to help,” said Pushpa.
The transformation of the lives of these women as well as their communities can be attributed to the initiative by Safe Water Network which has taken the onus of training the water aunties on how to run and manage the iJal station including the technicalities as well.