A joint effort by ACCESS Development Services, an Indian microfinance technical services non-profit organization, and Hindustan Unilever is providing water purifiers to poor families. Unilever’s PureIt does not require any electricity or running water and so is perfect for rural use. Nextbillion.net highlights the benefits of such a partnership through an anecdote.
Yakalakshmi lives in Nekkunda village, part of the Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh, with her husband and two children. Though she has water piped to her house by the village panchayat, her entire family fell ill for a month last monsoon season by drinking water directly from the tap. “We all got high fever and severe diarrhea,” and as a result, “we had to spend around Rs. 4000 ($100) on health care, which was very difficult for us.” So, when Yakalakshmi got the opportunity this past January to buy an effective water purifier through her Self Help Group (SHG) on an installment basis, she was one of the first to sign up.
The venture also shows two points. One that simply making people aware of a problem will not address the situation unless they can afford to do something about it. And two, that such an effort can be done on in a sustainable fashion.
Based on a public-private partnership model, this exciting tie-up is financially sustainable. The project has already been extended to 11 of ACCESS’s partner MFIs in Andhra Pradesh. HUL and ACCESS are now looking at expanding the initiative countrywide through the ACCESS Microfinance Alliance, which has a 110 partner MFIs across India, potentially bringing safe drinking water to a large proportion of the 2.4 million clients served by these MFIs.