Friday, March 30, 2007

The WaterCredit Initiative

Watercredit Initiative is a microfinance organization, that is applying micro-finance principle to helping poor people harness water and build sanitation.

The project is operating in Bangladesh and Tamil Nadu in India.

In Tamil Nadu, the local governments (Panchayat) do not provide clean drinking water to every citizen. (The experience is the same across other Indian states as well.) Even in cities like Chennai, not all citizens have access to drinking water, supplied to their homes. Some of us in 'posh' localities get piped water supply from Metro Water which we collect in sumps and pump to overhead tanks. The water charges and tax are very minimal. For example, in an apartment complex consisting of nine apartments, I pay a little over Rs. 600 for six months. The other residents pay something similar.

Thus, for about Rs. 100 a month (about US$ 2), I get unlimited supply of water.

The water may not qualify as pure, but can be treated with water filters (aqua guard and such), boiled and consumed.

However, poor people within Chennai have Metro Water tankers coming and delivering water. Each family can at best fill a few pots and barrels. Most poor people may not have enough space in their small dwelling places to store the water.

In the suburbs, where Metro Water does not operate, the local municipalities and panchayats to do not provide quality water in decent quantity. In Trichy/Srirangam corporation, where my parents live, again, water is supplied to most homes through pipes, and in reasonable quality and quantity. This, however, is not the case in most of the rural areas.

While it is the job of the local elected Governments to supply water, since they derelict their duty, people have to turn to other means.

Watercredit could be a solution.

I also think it is sensible for the State Government to increase the water fees/tax substantially to 'richer' parts of the state where they are providing piped water supply and use the money to lay pipes to other residents across the state to offer enough water to the people.

No comments: