Rural Ingenuity: The H20 Pied Piper

Rainwater from the roof goes to an old open tank that was fortunately already placed at a desired height. The bottom of this tank is six feet above the ground. This tank, with a height of seven feet, has a capacity of about 14,000 litres. Water is allowed to fill up to 5.5 feet and then it starts overflowing. The excess water gets filtered in a locally made filter and pours into the open well. In this process, the tank holds upto 11,000 litres of water. As the rainwater is used for non-potable purpose, it is not filtered.

Explaining how one family’s rainwater collection system operates to provide both potable and non-potable sources of water for six months out of the year. The full article can be found on India Together.

NGO helps HIV positive women reintegrate into the workforce

One of the most effective ways in ensuring that individuals maintain a decent standard of life is to provide them with the necessary tools to establish independence and self-sufficiency in their lives. Sanmitra aims to do just that by helping women that are HIV positive reenter the mainstream workforce. The NGO also targets sex workers and other demographics vulnerable to the virus. The approaches invoked by the organization are simple but entrepreneurial and address the challenge of getting employers to hire infected women, by sidestepping them altogether.

[Head of Sanmitra Prabha] Desai’s solution to this situation has been simple: set up an enterprise for doing industrial assembling and packaging jobs, get work outsourced from factories and train and employ affected and infected people to do these jobs. In another initiative, Sanmitra trains affected and infected people, most of them young widows, to become HIV counsellors and para-health workers. Desai strongly believes earning livelihood is critical to one’s well-being.

These approaches not only provide income to the employees, but also enable them to develop skillsets and have gained positive praise from the clients of the outsourcing ventures.

Sanmitra’s income generation programme called the Swayambhu Uddhyam Kendra has found support from factories producing electrical goods. The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) has been supportive, as have large companies such as Larsen & Toubro. At Swayambhu, a 20-year-old AIDS widow with two children shows us how she assembles switches. Hands deftly hammering she says, “If I work fast and concentrate I can do about a 100 pieces a day.” At any given point of time, there are about 10 women like her who spend seven-eight hours here each day. They earn wages on a per piece rate. This adds upto a minimum of Rs 70 per day, some earn upto Rs 120. Over a month, they earn about Rs 2,000. The NGO gives them a bus and train pass, along with some basic nutrition in the form of a daily snack.

Finally, this approach leverages the positive benefits of developing a community of similarly afflicted individuals, which in some ways also contributes to their overall morale. The entire article can be found here.

[Source: India Together]

Solid Waste Management – A PPP Opportunity?

Meena Gupta, a secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Forests, claims that the Indian government will soon add amendments to municipal solid waste management regulations, and highlighted the private sector’s role in exploring new projects. Merinews, a citizen journalism news portal, quoted Ms. Gupta as saying:

sustainable waste management could materialise only if service delivery was linked to private sector participation. “It is imperative that the private sector comes forward and enables the public sector stakeholders to devise appropriate frameworks that result in a win-win for both sides,” she said, adding that the private sector could also play an important role in building the capacities of municipal bodies. The municipalities, on their part, need to provide guidance for the selection of appropriate technologies.

Solid waste management, along with recycling, presents plenty of opportunities for partnerships. For example, EXNORA is an NGO in Chennai that focuses on the environment through their SoWAM program, which works in muncipalities throughout Tamil Nadu. An India Together article also provides a good background into the various policies in place, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of private sector participation.

Risks of private sector involvement may include a lack of transparency, a commercial failure that would then lead to disturbance of public services, or low cooperation between stakeholders. A World Bank presentation offers different options for contracting mechanisms and other processes to offset these potential risks, and Vinay previously discussed a primer on PPPs.

The opportunity is there, but is it best for the private sector to get involved in offering what can be considered an essential public good? And do the benefits really outweigh the risks?