Country Water Actions

Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals, communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.

India: Bringing Water Supply and Sanitation Services to Tribal Villages in Orissa the Gram Vikas Way
April 2006

Gram Vikas, a non-government organization working with the rural poor of Orissa, India, provided 100% water supply and sanitation coverage to 211 villages. A family-oriented approach and socialized community fund-raising are the organization’s hallmark strategies for encouraging total village participation. TOILET & BATHS FOR RURAL ORISSA Gram Vikas’ Rural Health and Environment Program (RHEP), an integrated rural development intervention, has helped over 200 rural villages acquire good quality toilets and bathrooms, coupled with at least 3 taps per household and 24 hour water supply. Providing water and sanitation is RHEP’s core rallying element that brings communities together, and serves as a springboard for collective action in Gram Vikas’ other programs. Gram Vikas’ interventions in Orissa are directed at energizing whole villages, and are driven by the involvement of the entire community in planning, implementation and monitoring. Through its own funds sourced from its pool of donors, including the government, an initial subsidy of Rs3000 for toilet construction is granted per household in the community. This is considered a social cost and is spent for external materials like cement, steel, pan, and door. HALLMARK WATER AND SANITATION STRATEGIES Unique to Gram Vikas is the adoption of the social inclusion approach wherein all families, irrespective of their economic, social and caste considerations, build the same type of toilet and bathrooms. Villages co-finance projects through a “corpus fund” in the amount of Rs1000 which the community must raise. A family’s contribution to the corpus fund is determined by their economic capacity, with the poor giving lesser contributions. Income from fish culture and vegetable farming is used for operation and maintenance expenses. If the income isn't enough, the villages contribute another 0.5% or 1% of the gross product at harvest time. These contributions are also socialized.

The maintenance of infrastructure is the responsibility of the villagers. Local youth are trained to undertake minor repairs and maintenance of the pump, motor and pipelines. MODEL SUSTAINABILITY MECHANISMS Over the years, Gram Vikas has pioneered mechanisms that ensure building sustainability in water and sanitation. The corpus fund is put in an interest earning deposit and the interest is used for operations and management as well as for extending support to new families in the village for building toilets and bathrooms with piped water supply. Through the villages’ corpus funds, Gram Vikas is able to leverage for additional resources. It has successfully leveraged for government funds for rural water supply or from local area development funds from Members of the Parliament and members of the Legislative Agenda. In addition, the corpus fund has also been used as collateral to source more funds from financing institutions. WHAT’S AHEAD FOR GRAM VIKAS The story does not end with providing piped water, toilets and bathrooms but culminates in a process of empowering marginalized groups, especially women who are traditionally excluded from meaningful participation and decision making. Aside from the development of functional water supply systems in 211 villages, Gram Vikas also put up 64 common units in schools and community halls. The organization is hopeful that by 2010, they would have reached 120,000 families in 1,000 villages. Networking with like-minded civil society groups operating in Orissa is a primary consideration to replicate Gram Vikas’ water and sanitation project in other parts of India — especially to Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh — in partnership with other NGOs who have expressed interest in the approach. RELATED LINKS Water Champion Joe Madiath on Championing 100% Sanitation Coverage in Rural Communities in India

Serving the Rural Poor: A Review of Civil Society-Led Initiatives in Rural Water and Sanitation

_______________________________ *This article was first published online at ADB's Water for All website in April 2006: The Country Water Action series was developed to showcase reforms and good practices in the water sector undertaken by ADB’s member countries. It offers a mix of experience and insights from projects funded by ADB and those undertaken directly by civil society, local governments, the private sector, media, and the academe. The Country Water Actions are regularly featured in ADB’s Water for All News, which covers water sector developments in the Asia and Pacific region.