By donating a water purifier costing no more than Rs 1,500, gniF hopes to drive home many valuable lessons on water into urban slum children.
The donation was made to Anouradha Bakshi's Project Why, an initiative to provide meaningful education to less privileged children in New Delhi's Giri Nagar slums. [To view PW's safe-water project scroll down the first column and look for 'Water Bearers' after clicking this link.]
Association with PW goes back over 2 years, with nominal donations made now and then. Along the way, GNI has been persuading her to expose children to civic and environmental issues. Making the children survey and map their area to understand the world they live in, planting and caring for the little open spaces they have, issues of waste-making and personal responsibilities for it, foreswearing bottled drinks and the reasons therefor are all themes reportedly, discussed by small groups of children at PW.
When during conversations it emerged that PW and many poor households have to buy bottled water marketed by MNCs to ensure hygiene, it became clear how cleverly successful governments and corporates have become. Governments have abdicated their duty to provide safe drinking water saying virtually, "Go buy it in shops". Bottled water costing Rs 10 per litre has penetrated the tiniest lane where taps and hand pumps have gone dry. Neat.
It is in this scenario that a product like Hindustan Lever's [-an MNC!] PureIt, has to be applauded. Whether or not care for the poor was a part of the product design, the poor have a solution in this well engineered water purifier. It is designed to overcome many of the limitations in poor households.
PureIt is fairly affordable [Rs 1500], cheap to run [Rs 250 for 6000 litres], fool proof in operation, occupies little space, needs no running water, electricity or gas and its output has been tested safe by many laboratories. Basically it's a particle filter, deodorizer, safe germicide doser and water clarifier [More details here.]
gniF has visualised a great teaching tool in PureIt and has stipulated that the product be discussed in technical, social and environmental terms and managed by a children's committee that will maintain records and sell the water at Rs 1 per litre. They are to raise enough money to buy a second unit within six months or return the money, the idea behind the stipulation being of course, self-sufficiency.
The lessons that PureIt can teach are many:
- Technology: How might water be purified safely at home?
- Economics: Why does a litre of water cost Rs 10? Where does that money go?
- Environmental: What does it cost in fuel to transport bottled water in trucks?
- Waste-making: How does home purification reduce the litter of water bottles and plastic pouches?
- Business: Why can't shops purify using machines like this and sell glasses of water cheap?
- Imagination: Can I build a slightly bigger machine using this technology?
- Science: How to test for water's purity in a simple way in my school?
- Responsibility: How to care for and maintain the machine?
So many spin offs from a modest investment; akin to a way a banyan grows from a tiny seed. gniF hopes PW will see beyond the little gesture and fulfils gniF's dreams for greater water awareness.The few early feedbacks indicate much enthusiasm. But in trying conditions that exist in India, it is to be seen if the programme is sustained over a period and becomes self-regenerating.