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A Water Revolution in Rural India

Values, CompanyDanielle Samaniego, Gap Inc. bloggerComment

Gap Inc. is working with its longtime partner, Swasti Health Resource Centre, to provide more water filtration plants in rural India.


Clean water is more than a luxury; it's life.

So imagine spending hours each day walking in search of clean water to keep your family safe and healthy. This is the reality for millions of women, forced to fetch water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing.

Gap Inc. is working with its longtime partner, Swasti Health Resource Centre, to provide more water filtration plants in rural India, where much of the accessible water is affected by dangerous Fluoride levels, which can cause long-term health damage.

“The villages are very poor by any standards, so this water is critical," Swasti President Shiv Kumar said. “This is getting water to the households that don't get good-quality water, and changing attitudes and mindsets toward water and water usage."

India is experiencing a severe shortage of drinking water. Through Swasti's Community Water Plant program, clean water will be provided to specific communities in southern India while a long-term solution to recharge local ground water — and ensure sustainability of the water sources — is established.

“Women have the highest burden of getting drinking water," said Kumar, who added that the plants are able to provide a more accessible source of clean water. “Even if she travels … she wouldn't have to travel that far because the water plant is closer to her. So it's helping women, children and men."

It's also why water education also plays a major role. “It's not just about creating access by building plants; it's about changing mindsets toward usage, sanitation, hygiene and reinforcing messages," Kumar said.

Together, Gap Inc. and Swasti have so far built three community water plants in the three Panchayats — Maraganukunte, Kottakote and Nallapareddypalli — of Chikkaballapura district, Karnataka State in southern India. These plants currently reach 4,162 households, with more planned.

Gap Inc. first partnered with Swasti eight years ago when developing P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) — a program designed to provide female garment workers with the foundational life skills and technical training needed to advance. Hundreds of those P.A.C.E. participants will be affected by the building of additional community water plants. Ultimately, Swasti's goal is to provide clean water access to 1,000 villages.

“What Gap Inc.'s investment has done has helped us expand our reach and inspire and encourage other private companies to come on board," Kumar said. “So this is just the first part of the journey."