Washington, March 26 : A unique tie-up between ACCESS Development Services - an Indian microfinance technical services non-profit organization, and Hindustan Unilever Limited, is going to provide safe drinking water to rural poor.
According to a report in ENN (Environmental News Network), though local bodies have been working to raise community awareness on the importance of safe drinking water, the major penalties of affordability and access have remained in most villages in India.
"Most of these villages have piped water or boreholes," according to Padma, Project Coordinator at a local NGO. "The problem is that tests by UNICEF in this district show that up to 70 percent of these sources are contaminated," she added.
The contamination gets even worse during the rainy season, especially due to poor sanitation and waste-management practices.
According to a report by the Planning Commission, in a country where around 150 million people are estimated to lack access to safe drinking water, diseases like jaundice, cholera and severe diarrhea abound. Every year, 500,000 children under 5 years die from diarrhea alone.
Now, a partnership between ACCESS and HUL has led to the design of a household water-purifier, PureIt, which uses a four-stage filtration process to remove all bacteria, viruses, dirt, and pesticides resulting in water that is 'as safe as boiled water.'
The water-purifier does not require electricity or running water.
According to ACCESS CEO Vipin Sharma, this project will ensure access to safe drinking water for their microfinance clients, and it will help to alleviate different aspects of poverty.
Due to this project, clients will save money on health care and reduce absenteeism from work and school due to water-related illnesses.
"It is also an innovative use of existing MFI distribution systems to deliver products, besides financial products, that have a social value and to target micro-loans for specific health initiatives," said Sharma.