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Jala Suraksha– Technology Enabled Community Governance of Panchayats Drinking Water System

Our contribution will be very help full in enabling the community governance on the drinking water system of local grampanchayat.

Photo of Dennis Chauhan
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Domestic water for drinking is accorded the first priority use in the National Water Policy. The human rights to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.  

Access to information, itself a human right, is critical for realizing all other human rights and is a prerequisite for active, free and meaningful participation. Governance and accountability can only be strengthen by an informed public that is able to hold the state to account for the decisions made and services delivered. Openness is one of the best antidotes of corruption.

Jala Suraksha is a technology enabled community governance of Panchayats drinking water system. It is an innovative community based project. The main objective of the programme is to drive community-led change in the Panchayats Drinking Water system by enhancing its planning and monitoring capacity. This is accomplished by utilizing a low cost technology called “Interactive Voices Response System (IVRS)”.

The project covers all grampanchayats of the particular district. The main intention of this programme is to involve the local women who face the daily reality with the problems relate to panchayat water system. As part of the project, all women SHG members located in that particular area are oriented towards the services. Every week, they survey the existing water services offered by their Panchayats drinking water system and answer a ‘yes/no & numerical’ type monitoring questionnaire that captures the status-quo. These answers are collected through a digitized IVRS system. The responses from these members are scored and community score cards are generated for each Panchayats drinking water system. Based on these scores, all the Panchayat of the district are ranked. The ranking cards serve as tools for comparing performances as well as planning for specific improvements desired.

The use of this innovative low cost technology automates the data collection process and the whole cycle of community monitoring is carried out in considerably less time. This allows for presenting updated community based monitoring information to public representatives, Panchayat members and administrators. This will also help in creating healthy competition in between panchayats.  More importantly, it serves as a useful tool for identifying community needs and aiding community led changes within the Panchayats drinking water system.

This project can further allows to understand aiding and hindering forces for community participation in governance and monitoring.

Under the same project, to bring in healthy practices, an individual app for each Panchayat drinking water system will be develop. This app will give all information regarding the ward wise timing to collect water, duration of the water being release etc. Through this app daily SMS will be automatically send to people half an hour prior to the release of water by the Panchayats drinking water system.


To prevent the wastage of water

 Most of the times the people always wait to collect water by opening all the water tapes because they don’t know the exact time of water to release from the Panchayat. By this app the wastage of water can be prevented.

 Anybody can fill the water for you.

If a person is busy in something, he/she can easily convey the message to neighbor or anybody to fill the water.

One can save time

Because of the exact information regarding the water timings, no need to stand in front of the government water taps waiting for the water to come.

Strengthen the Village drinking water security

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

  • Conceptual Development

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

In India alone more than 100,000 village have drinking water issue. Apart from this it would also be useful for urban slums. After developing a model at the Panchayat level the same can be replicated to the urban areas to initiate the healthy competition in-between the municipalities too. This can be a SOP or a guideline for the Department of Drinking Water because of its cost effectiveness.

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

Low cost of this technology make it affordable. The simple and efficient design makes it sturdy and special. Once in use it is the easiest way of the community monitoring. Once the free app has been downloaded there is no further cost. The same type of study name Arogyashreni was conducted by us among the government health facilities in rural Karnataka.

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

The project in the pilot phase will be financed by the donor contribution only. Later the project will be implemented by the Public Private Partnership.

In-country experience

  • Yes, for two or more years

If you have been operating in India, what has been your focus?

Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) is a development organization, engaged in building a new civil society in India through its grassroots to policy-level action in Health, Education and Community Development sectors. SVYM is also rooted to its values of Satya, Ahimsa, Seva and Tyaga, which is reflected in its program design and delivery, transactions with its stakeholders, resource utilization, disclosures and openness to public scrutiny. Acting as a key promoter-facilitator in the community's efforts towards self-reliance and empowerment, SVYM is developing local, innovative and cost-effective solutions to sustain community-driven progress. Buying in support from the community, working in healthy partnership with the government and corporate sectors and sharing its experiences with like-minded organizations have been the hallmark of Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement evolution in the last more than 30 years. The organization today runs 8 institutions and has more than 50 projects

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • Yes

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

Mysore district, Karnataka state, India

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am working in this organization since last 8 years. Because of this extra ordinary organisation my passion for public health took new shape. We are, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement working in the field of WASH since 1990. The programme on WASH is called as Nirmalya Vahini. The Nairmalya Vahini focuses on developing sustainable solutions for the challenges related to Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Environment, and addresses both the hardware (infrastructure) and the software (behaviour) component affecting or influencing the sector. The invaluable grass-root experiences are systematically analyzed and crystallised into modules and materials for training, scale up and policy advocacy. Write now the Nairmalya vahini has been expend to the city of Bangalore and Raichur district, the most neglected part of north karnataka.

Is this a new or recent idea for your organization? How does it differ from what you are already doing?

No this is exactly not a new idea for us as we had completed a similar project in the health sector. The project name was Arogyashreni - community monitoring of primary health centres illustrates what it takes to make community monitoring work successfully and provides evidence that community participation in health is the right way to go. The project was accomplished by utilizing a low cost technology called “Interactive Voices Response System (IVRS)” We are working in the field of WASH since last 20 yrs, working with more than 500 self help groups and almost 75% of the Gram Panchayat through out the Mysore district. The difference would be for our SHG women. This is a great opportunity for our SHG women to learn and get enabled with the technology and with this they can be an inspiration for all. In one word this is a real community empowerment if we can do so. With a little hand holding, we can utilize the innovative ideas of the community in making our system better.

What are the two or three biggest risks for your idea and how will you manage the risks?

1. Government and Political interference - Keeping the local panchayat as a stakeholder could mitigate this risk. Our organisation's past experience working with government for past 30 yrs would also help in mitigating this. 2. Caste based issues that are prevalent in local community. As SHGs are directly involved in the project this issue can also be mitigated. 3. Other issue is the usage of the technology and training component. As we have a good team of IT professional , this issue can also be solved. Otherwise there is no visible risk seen.

How would you propose to track or record the households or customers reached?

Since we would be targeting people through their mobile phones, we would be able to track the number of people reached by using their phone numbers as their unique identifiers. Through their phones, we would also be able to collect various demographic information as well as self-reported behavior change information. As this idea is going to use IVRS technology. Tracking of users and household would not be an issue.

If you had two years and $250,000 USD in funding, how many households or customers would you reach?

In 2 years and with $250K funding we can reach close to almost 25% of the GPs located in Mysore district. ( Total gram panchayat in Mysore district are - 266 , 25% = 67 Gps). We can reach up to minimum of 536 villages and can reach near 100000 house holds. Here is how: 1st year: Organization and Process Buildup with a deliverable in 10 villages having 150 household and about 4 SHgs. This will be a showcase for the next year. 2nd year: expand to 100-120 villages. At this stage we will set a platform for rapid expansion to 536 villages in the 3rd year.

How would you propose to invest $250,000 USD if you received philanthropic/grant funding support from

Key activities are 1) Capacity building: Through consistent capacity building efforts of the project, communities could discuss the subject of WASH with a greater understanding of underlying factors. This helped the communities in IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM. 2) Dialogue & relationship building : The platform provided by the project for dialogue helped the community members build and improve relationships with the gram panchayati members and other staff significantly. This in turn has led to a better ARTICULATION OF THE CHANGE desired and the resources required to address the same. 3) Ownership: Finally, it is the sense of ownership that drives community members to use their circle of influence innovatively and consistently follow-up till the ISSUES ARE ADDRESSED. 4) Capacity building of the staff regarding IVRS. 5) Creation of App 6) Data analysis and report righting etc.

What type of support beyond grant funding are you most interested in?

We need the following support beyond grants: 1. Financial Institutions which can give us project funding. 2. Govt support is required to insist on usage of new and innovative technologies. 3. As we are working in the sector of public health since last 30 yrs, it would be wonderful we get the linkages with the other public health institutions. 4. Training regarding the newly and innovative technology in WASH and public health.

Does your organization have Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) approval?

Yes. We have Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Daniel

Hello, the idea of using technology to monitor and mitigate the amount of water that is wasted is intriguing to me. I believe that with the use of this technology that water could be saved and more people could have access to it. My main concern that I have with the proposal is the question of how much will this cost? In theory this is a great idea that can save water for all of the people of india but is it something that can be considered cost effective. Would that app be free? What would need to be done to install of this into a town? What would the cost be of this? How would you go about using the funds that are provided from this project?

I look forward to reading these answers and being able to further understand your idea. Thank you.

Photo of Dennis Chauhan

Ya,  IVRS what we are talking about is free for the community or SHG members. For the creation of IVRS and for the training component there will a minimal cost. 
There is a mechanism through which we can definitely install in the town. 
I have already uploaded some of the activities above for using of funds.

Photo of Daniel

Hello, I didn't see the uploads of the activities I apologize for that. How does the mechanism work? 

Thank you. 

Photo of Dennis Chauhan

This innovative community-based monitoring of panchayat drinking water system initiative will implement in selected rural areas of the Mysore district. A questionnaire with close-ended questions (yes/no type) will devised through a community consultation attended by SHG members and community representatives. This questionnaire will be on various aspects of Panchahyat Drinking Water system functioning and will install on a toll-free Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS). Selected SHG members will be oriented to answer the IVRS-based questionnaire. Any selected community member could answer the questionnaire for their respective Panchayath.
Responses generated through IVRS-based questionnaire will validated through physical verification and statistical assessment of error. Using this base-line community-based monitoring database, a district-wide ranking of pachayath will carried out. The ranks were disseminated among the community as well as to the Department of Drinking water.
Simultaneously the awareness generation activities will also carried out through SHG meetings, trainings, street plays, wall paintings, video shows etc.

The app will also develop to support this idea.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Dennis, we've added new Refinement questions to your original idea submission form. To answer the new questions, hit the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post. Scroll down to the entry fields of the new Refinement questions. Hit Save when you are done editing.

Photo of Shane Zhao

Hi Dennis, we have a few days left before the conclusion of the Refinement phase. It'd be fantastic if you might answer the new questions we added to your idea submission form. To update your post, please follow the tips in the previous comment from OpenIDEO. Looking forward to learning more!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Dennis, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story with higher impact. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.