Given the importance of water and sanitation to the economy and sustainable development, corporates have taken up projects in CSR for water security that make a larger impact on a region’s watershed and neighbouring communities.
CSR for water security
Between 2014 and 2018, Indian industry spent a total of INR 605.45 crores on providing safe drinking water to communities. Corporates spent an aggregate of INR 1,633.59 crores on building sanitation facilities across the country. Here are inspiring stories of how corporates are increasingly building a strategic fit of their CSR projects to make an impact on water security for rural communities.
CSR of CLP India Pvt. Ltd.
CLP India owns and operates one of the first supercritical coal fired plants of India. CLP India, as a responsible corporate citizen, takes cognizance of the fact that ensuring water security is vital to community well-being and sustainability. Further, the company is keenly aware of its responsibility to replenish the water resources that it uses in the power generation operations. Given the severity of water-related challenges, CLP India has been implementing a range of projects in CSR for water security in 6 business locations covering about 36 villages:
– Drinking water facilities for human and cattle (Paguthan in Gujarat, Tejuva in Rajasthan, Khandke in Maharashtra, Veltoor in Telangana, Samana, Mahidad in Gujarat)
– Water infrastructure projects (Samana and Mahidad, Khandke)
– Water harvesting structures (Khandke, Veltoor, Samana, Mahidad).
Designed through rigorous discussions with implementation partners and community members, these projects go beyond building water infrastructure to focus on water use behaviour. The implementation plan thus includes training on alternate farming techniques, awareness on optimum water-use and water-budgeting to ensure equitable access for all living beings in the area.
The water harvesting projects were designed to ensure water security in CLP India’s business catchment region and communities by increasing availability of water for drinking, service and agricultural purposes. A large part of the projects also focused on promoting organic agriculture and water conservation awareness through activities such as water budgeting, soil testing and farmers’ field schools.
To enhance the impact of the initiatives, CLP India encouraged the communities to utilise existing Government schemes such as the Jalayukta Shivar Abhiyan in Maharashtra and WASMO in Gujarat. The potential gaps were funded to maximise community benefits.
Customising solutions to make them locally relevant, the CLP team consulted the communities for whom these were meant. As a result, extensive water harvesting and revival of water recharging structures were undertaken across Khandke, Veltoor, Tejuva, Samana and Mahidad. More than 30 water structures, 15 drinking water structures and 40 sunken ponds were built and 16 village ponds were desilted. The people of Khandke, Paguthan, Veltoor and Theni have benefitted from drinking water facilities such as water ATMs provided by the company.
Maximizing Impact through Locally Relevant Projects
Locally relevant water initiatives combined with community engagement have resulted in creation of resilient water infrastructure and behaviour change, creating framework for longterm water security. Keeping in mind the regional climatic conditions, the team harnessed the indigenous knowledge of the local people and the experience of the subject matter experts to design innovative and effective solutions.
Working closely with the Village Development Committee (VDC) comprising village representatives, helped in handing over ownership of assets and facilities to the communities. These interventions implemented across 36 villages have made a positive impact on the lives of an estimated 57,000 beneficiaries.
Apart from water security, these projects have also impacted the quality of life in the adopted villages. Infrastructure construction generated livelihood opportunities for the local people. Women now have more productive time available to them, since they do not have to walk miles to fetch water.
Community Involvement in Water Security
Community involvement, an inbuilt feature in all CLP India’s water initiatives, is the mainstay of long term project sustainability. Communities are empowered through ownership and management of the assets created for them. For each project, CLP India funds the building infrastructure and maintenance for the initial years; eventually handing over the ownership to the Gram panchayat for ensuring long-term sustainability of the projects.
A well-defined 4 step monitoring process contributes to long term sustainability of the project. Programme monitoring sheets are prepared based on the scope and key performance indicators for each project. The data and information collected by the field-teams is verified through regular field-visits and regular peer reviews ensure better quality project implementation.
CSR of Feedback Infra
Feedback’s Bhond Model Village Programme (implemented by Feedback Foundation) is a CSR programme that follows a Catalytic Model of Change, with a focus on achieving a population-level transformation, rather than introducing standalone activities or programmes.
Bhond was a very backward village of Haryana, with over 75% of its population being socially and economically backward, over 64% being illiterate and less than 15% having primary education.
In 2014, FIPL and FFCT adopted Bhond village, located in Nuh district of Haryana and having a population of 1,500. Ever since, the Foundation has given tremendous impetus to creating a holistic, integrated and comprehensive model village, through sustained and tenacious actions.
FIPL and FF have steadfastly carried out developmental activities as part of the organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. In Bhond, among the various CSR activities of Feedback Infra, one important initiative was that of improving the water situation based on a situational assessment survey carried out 5 years ago. The survey revealed that majority of the households i.e. 44.30 % were dependent on the borewell’s untreated water. This was one of the key reasons for a high incidence of diseases and more than 7 days a month of absence from daily work. Hence, the Foundation motivated the communities, who decided to launch an intervention to ensure the availability of safe drinking water.
Guided by the Foundation, the community decided to restore and clean the existing water infrastructure and build additional infrastructure as well. An exercise to revive the existing water bodies and construct new ones was launched, based on the demand for water in the village and its watershed topography. To start with, the village pond was re-excavated and renovated to create the infrastructure for rainwater harvesting. Additional infrastructure such as pipelines, submersible pumps and storage tanks were built to provide access to safe drinking water to every home in the village.
A water reservoir (18x4x3 ft) was built and two tube wells were installed in community areas to ensure water supply to the entire village. Two check dams were also constructed to divert the rainwater run-off to the catchment area and a Bandh located in the foothills was repaired to check rainwater run-off. Pursuing the Catalytic Community Institutions pillar, a Village Development Committee (VDC) was formed. In line with the Capacity Building pillar, the VDC members were trained to undertake maintenance & minor repair of the tube wells and constituted a ‘watch & ward’ system to ensure that the pipelines being laid are not stolen or damaged.
Water Security for Prosperity
The CSR for water security initiatives in the village helped recharge groundwater and the tube wells that had remained dry for over 4-5 years. Today, the village has sufficient clean drinking water as well as enough for farm irrigation. The drinking water from two sources was tested and analyzed by PHED, Nuh and SGS Labs in Delhi NCR vis-à-vis the BIS 10500 standards. A follow -up visit and interactions of the PHED team with the residents of Bhond village in March 2019 found the water quality to be satisfactory. With water reaching every home, the village is also 100% open defecation free and has witnessed a reduction in the incidence of common diseases.
Adopting a holistic approach to village development, and to ensure improved water efficiency, the Foundation trained the farmers to adopt newer agricultural practices. Guidance on changed cropping patterns, and connections were established with mandis because of which the farmers are now able to earn better.