In India, an estimated 38 million lives are lost due to waterborne diseases yearly. Unavailability of potable water, highly-priced filtration mechanisms and a lack of awareness lead to a vicious cycle of disease and deprivation.
Project Asbah is a custom-fit approach to provide clean drinking water to rural households and urban slums based on the type of contamination present in the water, such as Reverse Osmosis Plants in areas of heavy metals and TDS, Nanotechnology in areas with physical, chemical and biological contamination and UV in places of bacterial contamination. This year, we also ventured into areas with newer technologies which eliminate contamination and reduce the wastewater generation to just 1%.
In most developing regions, drinking water contains a significant amount of microbial pathogens. This pathogen-riddled water is the cause of diarrhoea and various other water-borne diseases, responsible for around 1.7 million deaths a year. Furthermore, 63 million Indians do not have access to clean drinking water, leaving them with no alternative but to depend on contaminated water for drinking, cooking and household purposes owing to lack of large scale solutions to combat this nationwide issue.
Project Asbah aims to strike the problem at its roots through a comprehensive model which adopts a necessary strategy as per the need of the area.
Goals and Objectives of Project Asbah
// Provide: To provide clean drinking water at highly affordable rates to urban and rural slum dwellers deprived of this basic necessity.
// Empower: To empower local unemployed women as entrepreneurs who will run the community filtration plant and overlook all operations ranging from the management of customers to the finances of the plant.
// Impact: Create a prototype which is easily replicable across the slums and villages of India, to eliminate the drinking water crisis and maximise impact.
// The Community and the Business Model
a) We begin with identifying areas with heavy contamination, we do this through looking into Government sources such as Central Ground Water Board and Ministry of Jal Shakti reports. We also connect with the MLA of the area and other local leaders for a better understanding of the situation in the areas.
b) After identifying a potential area, we plan out comprehensive need assessment surveys with the help of volunteers from a local NGO, this helps us in confirming the need of an area and forges relationships with organisations having an established presence in the area, making our intervention simpler.
c) Once the surveys have been conducted the water is sent for testing at certified laboratories such as the Shree Ram Labs and Delhi Jal Board. This helps us in knowing the type of contamination in water and arriving at a suitable technology to deploy in the area selected.
d) After surveys and reports have concluded, we begin with establishing our presence with strong community interaction such as street plays, puppetry shows on conservation of water and safe water practices etc.
e) Setting up the plant: To set up the community filtration plants in these areas, we receive strong support from the Delhi Jal Board and local authorities such as the MLA and MP of the areas. We also collaborate with CSRs of various corporates as well as established NGOs across different cities of the country. Thus, by creating a synergistic network of partnerships, we inaugurated our first Community RO Plant in Lalbagh in April 2018.
Each community filtration plant provides highly affordable water on a daily basis to 550 families at a mere price of Rs.4/- for 20 litres. A card-based system is put in place, through which these families receive 20 litres of clean drinking water every day. The plants are entirely run and handled by the two women entrepreneurs, thereby empowering them by providing them with employment. Furthermore, the walls surrounding the plant have been beautified and painted with social messages as a step taken to spread awareness of the importance of clean drinking water among people.
As part of our IEC Activities, the walls surrounding our Community RO Plants have been beautified by painting them with messages of awareness about the adversities of drinking contaminated water. We plan to intervene in schools and villages and conduct health and hygiene sessions, workshops, general counselling and other kinds of interactive sessions where villagers would get better educated about the importance of drinking clean water as well as general hygiene. We also plan to conduct health check-up camps and cleanliness drives in these areas. Also as a part of our IEC activities we collaborated with Project Baala to ensure menstrual hygiene in our areas by conducting workshops and distributing reusable sanitary napkins to more than 1700 slum women. We also joined hands with Nanhe Pakshi NGO and garnered support from construction giant Larsen & Toubro to establish community libraries providing education to 200+ slum children.
- Generated employment for 18 women who receive a salary of Rs. 4500/- per month.
- Reduced expenditure on health by Rs. 600/- per family, per month
- Allowed savings of Rs. 480/- per month on water expenditure.
- Impacted 26,400+ lives by providing clean drinking water and completely eliminating the risk of water borne diseases.
- Improved menstrual hygiene by conducting workshops in association with Project Baala to impact 1700+ slum women.
- Collaborated with Nanhe Pakshi NGO and Larsen & Toubro to establish community libraries open to all, currently providing education to 200+ slum children.
The wastewater generated from our plants is routed to a nearby toilet complex for optimal utilisation of resources, or a recharge well to replenish the groundwater. This year, we identified and ventured into new technologies which limit the waste water generation to just one percent! Furthermore, to align ourselves with the Jal Shakti Abhiyan we are also in the process of setting up rainwater harvesting mechanisms in all of our areas.
// Our Vision
In the next three years, Project Asbah will be successfully operating water filtration plants all across India. We will be empowering thousands of families in slums and rural areas by providing clean drinking water and employing women operators and empowering them as entrepreneurs. With a holistic approach, Project Asbah aims to cater to all WASH activities, by intervention in health, sanitation, menstrual hygiene and waste management. Under the Asbah Circle of Knowledge, we aim to establish over 20 libraries in all parts of the country.
Asbah envisions to penetrate the slums and villages of India so as to eliminate the challenges that a majority of our population faces, while accessing clean drinking water. Asbah plans to enable access to clean drinking water at highly affordable rates by replicating the model by partnering with State Governments and Nationwide NGOs. Following a holistic approach, Asbah plans to become a comprehensive WASH model by intervening into health and sanitation by joining hands with organisations having their key focus in these sectors, for collaborative growth. Under the Asbah Circle of Knowledge, we plan to replicate the model in all of our areas of operation for a multifold impact. As a project that started by providing just clean drinking water, today Asbah aspires to run ecologically viable plants by establishing rainwater harvesting mechanisms thus stepping towards conservation of water.
Winner of the World Water Race by Enactus in Silicon Valley, California among 120+ projects from across the globe.
Lauded by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Hon’ble Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee
Appreciated by the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal
Appointed as the Central Implementing Authority of Muzaffarnagar by Hon’ble Union Minister and MP Mr. Sanjeev Balyan
Recipient of the Boston Consulting Group Grant 2018
Received a Letter of Appreciation from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation
The only Indian team to be selected among the Top 4 teams across the world to make it to World Water Race Impact competition for two consecutive years.