The walk for water

Nilkamal, helping tackle the water problem of rural India.

How a simple yet innovative product is helping tackle rural India’s water crisis with a revolutionary solution.

70% of India’s population resides in rural areas and 88% of this population is termed to have at least ’basic access to water’. However, this does not capture the distance and difficulty faced by most to acquire the water. An average person requires 15 litres of water per day to cover the basic needs of consumption, sanitation and cooking – which means more than 50 litres per household.

In these rural villages, over 50% of women need to walk up to 5km every day to fetch water. Traditionally, water is carried in earthen pots with a capacity for 15-20 litres necessitating 2-3 trips and consuming up to 6 hours. These pots are carried on their heads which often leads to chronic back pain and even pregnancy complications. Unsafe water also leads to diarrhoea which kills more than 300,000 children under 5 years, annually.

In some villages, girls as young as 8 years are tasked to fetch the water; in others, men marry multiple wives so that there are sufficient hands to complete the household duties and collect enough water. Without a solution, the cycle is repeated and causes “Time Poverty” where young girls are forced to abandon education, health problems keep families in debt, and productive time is lost for the most basic human necessity.

Doesn’t seem too drastic? Here’s a little perspective to show how much these women/girls have to walk, and exactly how much time is being wasted for once chore that could be used to do so much more.

The household consumer brand Nilkamal has launched the innovative “Water Wheel” in partnership with an American firm, Wello. The revolutionary (literally!) design allows women to easily transport the water in a rolling drum eliminating the need for head loading. It has a carrying capacity of 45 litres (more than 2X of traditional methods) and made of durable plastic to withstand long, uneven surfaces while keeping the water hygienic and uncontaminated. The product has been tested for over 2000 kilometres and is leak-proof.

The company has already managed to provide over 16,000 Water Wheels across 10 states in India with the help of NGOs and institutional CSR programs and aims to expand further with the help of charitable and rural upliftment organisations.