A Closing Note & Next Steps

In our challenging journey to implement a sustainable water provision program in India, R4H has learned immensely from the rural community and their water resources. Many unforeseen obstacles in the form of cultural mentality, political barriers, and financial capability have taught our team countless lessons about the rewards and the shortcomings of running a social enterprise in Kuttanad, Kerala. Due to the constraints such obstacles have presented, our leadership team made a tough decision: to bring the R4H program to a close by maximizing existing funds under a subsidy model. The choice to leave our intended sustainable vending model behind and move towards a more conventional program emerged from a shortage of time and the concerns voiced by the community—their needs were better met under a model they understood and trusted. However, without the core component of the R4H vision—sustainability—our leaders felt that the program could no longer continue as a charity. For these reasons, we will build as many tanks as possible with current funds until our program ceases to operate by the end of this year. It has been an incredible learning experience for all of us at R4H, and we are proud to have connected those in need in Kerala to those who can help in the US.

 

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Program Manager surveying village resident

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Program Manager surveying village resident

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Program Manager and Village Coordinator out surveying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



On the field, our team has been hard at work gathering community data and preparing for construction. Our funds can provide more than 30 tanks under a simple subsidy model, but we must first find willing families with demonstrated need, financial ability, and available land. This has been the bulk of our pre-construction process: we have met with local villagers, government officials, and contractors in order to align all interests. It has not been without obstacles. Some common issues are as follows:

  • Loss of interest in rainwater harvesting due to new government pipeline promises
  • Inability to contribute the remaining amount after subsidy as a single portion
  • Lack of available land for construction/ roof space for collection


For these reasons, the village of Edayazham is no longer a suitable location for our program. The residents do not feel that the R4H program is a good fit for their current water situation. Therefore, our team and our implementation partners agreed to move into a new area with more immediate need and interest in rainwater harvesting. The Panchayats of Kurichi, Thakazhi and Vechoor have been approached and surveyed, showing a more willing community for this program. Villagers in these areas express more urgent water scarcity, with some drinking pond water. They also are able to pay the remainder post-subsidy. The next step will be to complete demographic surveying of each family before beginning construction.

Looking ahead, we aim to build a first round of 6-10 tanks in the new communities. We expect that demand will rise from surrounding families. In such instance, the program will proceed to use the remaining funds on a first come, first serve basis to build individual family tanks in these areas. Once construction is completed, our leadership will compile the accumulated survey, technical, and observed data into a final report. This will conclude the R4H program. In winding down, we hope our reflections about will reach all of our donors, advisors, and supporters. We will also offer our knowledge to the public in the hope that it informs future water projects in this area and beyond.

Thank you for sticking with us through this long and fruitful project. We hope you have learned as much as we have, and that you continue to support projects that take on the challenge of water scarcity in new and creative ways. Change is incremental, and we believe that we have taken one step in the right direction for those to come into this field in the future.