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Subscription for water!

This idea is based on the fact that people will pay for mobile phones and cable but not for water (because it's available for free)

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati

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While 18% of Indian rural populations have access to free treated water. 41% of rural populations have mobile phones. During a study of 180 villages in 2001, 65 of them subscribed to cable and that number has gone up to 90 within 2 years. Our insight is that low income people are not willing to pay for water because it is viewed as something that is free. Let's reduce the grueling travel it takes to get access to drinking water. Often women in a family make around six trips a day with each trip being close to 2-3 kilometers to gather sufficient drinking water for the family. What if you get water for free with your cable or any ________________________ (help us fill in the blank) subscription. 

How would you describe the stage of development of your idea?

  • Conceptual Development

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

70% of the Indian population is rural. Out of this 70 % most have cable. Therefore we are talking about millions of people being potentially influenced by this concept.

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

Data illustrates that cable and even satellite TV subscriptions are growing by almost 15 million every year. With many cable companies competing to capture the market, they are providing more incentives to attract more customers. It's our hope that large water deliveries can be an attractive incentive to choose a particular viewing package or a cable company.

What types of financing would be required for your idea to be successful?

The onus is on the companies to deliver the water along with their service.

In-country experience

  • Yes, for two or more years

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • No

What states or districts will you target/are you targeting within India?

All of them. But we would start out with the states with the largest rural populations.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a native of India. I was born and brought up in the state of Andhra. As a child I remember watching my aunts do the difficult task of using a hand pump or going to an open well to pull up water in buckets or pots. And after this they had to carry it home. I am an adult now and I would like to see women using their time being empowered and educated rather than collecting water all day long. Tracy Brandenburg and I brainstormed on this idea after talking about my experiences with drinking water in India.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tori Adele Signorelli

Hi Manvitha! I am writing from the OpenIDEO San Diego Chapter. We've taken an interest in your idea during our meeting tonight. We've collected some data to reinforce and support your work:

Mobile Usage in India:

Mobile phone usage:

Drinking Water:

Water and Sanitation Summit 2016 :

We hope that this research/ data helps you to support your model.

We've also put together a list of questions (coming soon) that came up for us as we read your concept. We hope these help you to deepen your idea, answer some questions for those of us who are less familiar with the culture and ultimately move your project forward! We look forward to hearing your responses and seeing how your idea grows!

Photo of Raghava Manvitha Reddy Ponnapati

This is awesome! Thank you! I will be glad to answer any further questions. Right now we are brainstorming on a way to actually distribute this. The fact that each village has it's own complications when it comes to access to clean water requires a strategy that is as diverse as the problem.

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