About ACF

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Participatory Water Audit provides Roadmap for Judicious Use of available Water Resources

There is a growing need for communities to develop and manage their local water resources in a sustainable manner. However, an essential first step is to gain an understanding of the total local supply of water, vis a vis the local demand for it. To effectively measure this, ACF is training communities to conduct their own ‘Community Water Audit’ – educating them to not only harvest water, but save it. 

To first test the model, ACF conducted a Participatory Water Audit in Rawan Village, of block Bhatapara, Balodabazar in Chhattisgarh and worked collaboratively with the community to understand its total water needs. Information was captured through a participatory process and secondary reports and the extent of the problem was analyzed. Finally, potential solutions were suggested to the community – following the Cycle of Water Management Process:

Working hand in hand with the community and applying scientific formulae to measure water use and supply, ACF was able to make key observations on the present water balance of the community:
· The village received 860.89 Ha-m water through various sources, but 28% i.e.241.17 ha-m flowed out during the monsoon season itself, without much productive use. Thus, villagers are able to use only 63.18% water to strengthen their livelihoods.
· The present water harvesting capacity of the village is 12.92 Ha-m of which 6.0 ha-m is for the entire year, which is also negligible compared to the outflow of water, thus offering a good potential for increasing the overall water harvesting and recharge capacity.
By assessing the topography, hydro-geological classification of the community, number of households and population, existing harvesting structures, rainfall and water usage patterns (for both household and agricultural purposes), ACF was able to come up with a strategy for balancing the water requirement for the community.

Fig1. Water Balance Concept & its Perceptions

The water-balance exercise suggested some of the following actions to improve the situation for the community:
  • Increasing the water-harvesting capacity of the village, which could be achieved through the deepening of existing ponds and creating new ponds in the upper regions of villages
  • ACF could plan to divert flood water and runoff of monsoon season through artificial recharge using traditional open-wells and tube-wells. This would help in retaining monsoon season excess and use it for groundwater recharge additionally.
  • The water audit also indicated that the village irrigation water management system needed discussion, as most of the irrigation water which was provided during the process of kharif irrigation, went into run-off without productive use. This is an aspect which cannot be linked to one village; thus the appropriate intervention was to have a stake-holder forum covering whole limestone belt and community.
  • Taking advantage of the topography of the area, and areas which are normally called “Rel”, Water harvesting can be promoted mainly in the form of decentralised ponds across the village particularly in upstream regions, at suitable sites to store rainwater and run-off. This would increase the recharge of groundwater and would ultimately result in an increase in yield of bore-wells.
  • Agriculture – While villages have relatively better availability of irrigation during the Kharif season, farmers were not able to capitalize it to benefit their Rabi crops. The reasons for that are water losses incurred due to irrigation-return flow.
With a clear Water Audit and recommendations in place, both ACF and the community then develop a strategy moving forward to address water imbalances by implementing key initiatives to make water a more sustainable resource for the future.

To have a Water Audit conducted in your location, write to brajeshsingh.tomar.ext@ambujacement.com for more information.

Community Led Water Distribution Systems

ACF has worked with communities of Chandrapur, Ambujanagar, Nadi Kudi to install water systems which distribute water equitably in the communities whilst maintaining both quality and quantity. These systems include community based RO systems, Water ATMs and networks of pipes and taps for distribution – all of which are owned and managed by the community.  With the current pandemic, communities are taking responsibility to ensure that water remains accessible to villagers for proper sanitation during COVID-19, whilst maintaining social distancing norms.

‘A water distribution system is one in which the drinking water is transported from the centralised treatment plant or well supply to the service connection or consumers´ taps. These systems aim to preserve the quality and quantity of water, as well as maintain sufficient pressures in the distribution of water. Basically, these systems consist of a network of pipes, pumps, valves, storage tanks, reservoirs and other components.’ (BHARDWAJ and METZGAR 2001).

The establishment of Community Led Water Distribution Systems in rural communities (often within 500m of households) is a key programme of ACF which has helped solve the drinking water issues in communities around Chandrapur (Mahrashtra), Ambujanagar (Gujarat) and Nadikudi (Andhra Pradesh) – interventions that have helped empower them during the COVID-19 pandemic. These systems include an RO Water Purifying system in Andhra Pradesh, a RO water purifying and Water ATM in Chandrapur and a Drinking Water Distribution pipeline in Ambujanagar all owned by the communities.

Here below are some of the stories of transformation from ACF owned to community ownership:

Reverse Osmosis Water Purifying System & Water ATM – Nadi Kudi, Andhra Pradesh

When ACF entered the villages of Nadi Kudi, Andhra Pradesh, the lack of safe drinking water was a significant problem – with high TDS contents, and other chemical, biological pollutants in the ground water. As a result, more than 50% of people in the villages were suffering frequently from ‘Arthritis’, ‘Typhoid’ and other water borne diseases. ACF showed the water analysis reports and explained the consequences of consuming the poor quality water to the community, to help educate them about the issue.  

Brainstorming solutions, it was agreed that the installment of an RO water plant was the best choice to address the issue of purified drinking water. A well-planned distribution system was needed to ensure every household received the water supply equally. But if people wanted the benefits, ACF insisted that they should contribute and invest in the service. 

Villagers welcomed the idea of ‘RO plant establishment’ but were hesitant about coming up with the community contribution. However, after continuous consultations between ACF and the Gram Panchayat, village elders, cooperatives, Women’s SHGs and community heads, people began coming forward to contribute:
  • The women were the first to come forward with their contributions. They could see the benefits of water reaching their homes, which would reduce the drudgery faced by them and their children. 15 SHGs contributed Rs. 30,000 and a women’s federation contributed Rs. 4000 to build a 500 LpH RO plant machinery.  
  • A Community member and the local Panchayat donated land to build the RO systems on.
  • The local Milk Association contributed Rs. 2 lakhs for the construction of the building.

As a consequence 4 RO plants were installed in Budavada village in 2010.Cumulatively, a total of 19 RO plants were set up in project villages of Chandrapur, Maharashtra and Sankrail, West Bengal. As on March 2020, about 4600 households got drinking water and on an average 65,000 litre per day  were supplied from these RO systems. All these systems are managed by the community through Village Development Committees/RO Committees. In fact, in some villages women committees are managing these systems. ACF has provided additional training to the committee members on leadership and accounting.. 

Network of Distribution Pipes & Taps – Ambujanagar, Gujarat

In Ambujanagar, ACF is taking access to drinking water to the next level, by providing drinking water at the household doorstep by developing a network of pipes for water distribution for the entire village. In 2018 ACF completed installation of a village drinking water scheme in Vadnagar village and covered 1245 households. Over a period of time, they provided drinking water facilities to 13 core villages.
Every village faced its own complications and challenges.  For example in Singsar village, there was a very large population and group water supply was the only source of water – resulting in permanent water scarcity due to over demand. ACF dug out a new drinking well 1.5 kilometers away from the village where there was a possibility of sweet water. After completion of work the entire village was provided with sufficient water throughout the year, with a network of pipeline being laid to provide water from well direct to village households.
To ensure ongoing sustainability, after completion of project, ACF handed the management of the project to the community itself through a Paani Samiti (Drinking Water Committee). Paani Samiti appoints a water operator to monitor the timely water supply and maintenance of the distribution scheme. For these types of expenses, the committee collects water charges from every home and maintains the total scheme from this collection. 

Today, 13 core villages of Ambujanagar have doorstep access to safe drinking water thanks to ACF distribution systems. A total of 77 members are associated in the Paani Samiti. TDS checking is done on a monthly basis, which is usually between 100 to 350ppm.

But how do we sustain this Community Ownership in our locations?

How do we guarantee that the communities continue to take ownership and ensure sustainability of the system?  ACF identifies or builds people’s institutions to take ownership and drive drinking water interventions in the long term:

  • Women SHG Federations: This has proven to be one of the best institutions to approach. Because they are well organized and institutionalized, federations understand the concept of intervention with minimum efforts and maximum benefits.
  • Building Water User Associations: In some communities, ACF has formed Water Users Associations who take it up on themselves to finish projects before the summer or drought season so that the community has sufficient water for their daily use. In some cases repair work is also done by pooling in both human and financial resources. Creating such people’s institutions also instills trust among the community members.
  • Village Development Committees (VDC): The distribution and maintenance of water is the sole responsibility of members of village based committees, to which ACF provides technical and monitoring support. Village communities procure water from RO plants usually at a cost of Rs. 3/- to Rs. 5/- per 20 litres . The villagers have the option to either purchase coupons in advance for a month or initiate a cash and carry system. In both the options the beneficiary (consumer) has to come to the RO plant with his/her container and fill/carry the RO water home. Each RO plant is maintained by a waged employee hired by the ‘Committee’ to look after the running of the plant, distributing purified water and managing financial transactions at the RO plant. The committee verifies these books and records on a weekly/ fortnightly basis and ACF verifies it on a monthly basis.
ACF continues to provide knowledge on various subjects in regard to water purification and distribution to ensure that the communities are drinking safe and clean water. Regular workshops on testing the TDS levels in water, understanding the technicalities of the RO plants and introducing Water ATMs to communities are key facets of ACF's drinking water intervention – one conducted in partnership with local communities. 

To know more about your systems and distribution channels, reach out to  brajeshsingh.tomar.ext@ambujacement.com

Creating Awareness on World No Tobacco Day

Amidst the lockdown, a few locations at ACF tried to promote World No Tobacco Day in order to protect the beneficiaries from the ill affects of using Tobacco. For decades the tobacco industry has deliberately employed strategic, aggressive and calculated approaches designed to attract a new generation of tobacco users, from product design to marketing campaigns aimed at increasing millions of its customers and users. 

The health team in  Darlaghat had initiated a tobacco control program with Salaam Mumbai Foundation in 2015 to focus upon creating a tobacco free workplace and surrounding communities by awareness sessions, individual counselling of tobacco users and behavior modification. 

During lockdown 5.0, the relevant IEC messages on tobacco consumptions and its adverse effects on human health were broadcasted among 30 health volunteers of the community health program. ACF’s health volunteers have addressed this initiative through telephonic conversation and online video messages. They shared audio and video messages among 1150 individuals in 52 whatsapp groups.. 

Health volunteers conducted home visits in 30 project villages and reached more than 1100 households. They have followed social distancing norms, ensured the use of masks and sanitized theirs and participants hands. The Sakhis of project villages involved 42 APEKSHA and 70 Swacchata Doots for a drawing painting competition at village level with submissions made on whatsapp. One on One sessions were also conducted with home quarantine individuals who have recently returned from containment zones or the city.

 In Bathinda, 135 students participated in an Essay Competition and 100 Children participated in poster competition in eight government schools where the APE program is implemented.  Whatsapp messages were also sent to all whatsapp groups covering approx 80,0000 persons. 

What is the relation between Tobacco and the Pandemic
-       COVID19 is known for affecting those with weaker lunges
-       It has been found that smokers are more likely to get attracted to the virus compared to non-smokers and are at high risk of developing severe diseases and deaths
-       Smoking impairs lung functioning making it harder for the body to fight the virus
-       A young generation is getting hooked to nicotine
-       Educating the youth  on the ill effects of tobacco is a need

SAHAYA Loans Support SHG Livelihood Streams

With the outbreak of Covid-19 virus and subsequent lockdown across the entire country, daily wage earners have been struggling to survive, with many facing starvation. 

ACF’s Village Functionary staff member Neetu Dhruw in Chhattisgarh, a Sahyogini heard about the SAHAYA loan from Union Bank which provided women belonging to an SHG with a loan of Rs. 5000. This was a ray of hope for SHG members facing difficulty to make ends meet and with guidance from Sahyogini and ACF, 10 SHG groups applied for the loan and brainstormed ways they could generate income by harnessing the funds.

And success followed.  The Union Bank granted loans to 52 Member at Rs. 5000 for each member of 6 groups. Out of these 52 members, 21 members started vegetable production and in a month the produce grown has reached the local markets, providing them with a much needed source of income. These women turned their backyards into small Vegetable cultivation areas calling it a ‘Wadi’ - earning Rs. 500 to 800 rupees in a week.

A total of 5 members have also started small grocery shops and a few have initiated creating face masks for the Gram Panchayat and Janpad Panchayat. In making of masks, women have earned Rs. 11,000 from masks made at a cost of Rs. 5000. 

Thru the same loan systems, the followings amounts have been received by SHGs in other ACF locations 

  •       3 SHGs from Sankrail received Rs. 1.8 lakh each
  •        6  SHGs from Kodinar received Rs.14 lakhs from Kodinar Taluka Co-operative Bank
  •        9 SHGs linked in Roorkee for credit
  •        1 SHG from Chandrapur received Rs. 3 lakhs for seed fertilizer support
  •       10 SHGS from Dadri received Rs. 20 lakhs
  •        5 SHGs from Bhatapara received Rs. 2 lakhs each
  •       15 have received Rs. 7 lakhs each for seed, fertilizer support in Chandrapur
Under Process-

  •        26 SHGs from Chandrapur to receive Rs. 1 lakh each
  •        16 SHGs under process in Darlaghat
  •        4 SHGs under process in Ropar

Immunization & Institutional delivery by ACF Farakka during lock down

India’s nationwide lockdown, due to COVID-19, has taken a toll on the immunization of children across the country with most new borns missing the scheduled vaccinations in the first phase of the lockdown. Routine immunization was suspended temporarily at the end of March after a directive from the Health Ministry. However from the last week of April 2020 the Government of West Bengal gave permission to immunize children and the ANC mothers with clear mention of social distancing. 

As per government guidelines, only 20 vaccinations could be done per Village Health Nutrition Day. With a need to organize more VHND, the problem emerged that not enough staff were available at sub-center level to organize the events. During this situation ACF’s Health Sakhis began helping Government line department staff to organize VHND at our core villages. Whilst ANMs are engaged in vaccination mainly, they were facing difficulties for documentation, weight calculation, BP screening, Sugar Testing, HB screening among other things. 

And so ACF’s Sakhi’s stepping in fill the gap and support ANMs in vaccinating children – also ensuring 100% attendance at VHND from those who were present at the village. Whilst village people faced fear due to COVID-19, Sakhi’s provided awareness through various Audio/Video messages, distributing masks and sanitizers and finally they are being able to bring them and their babies to the sub – center for immunization.

Though the total target was 233 immunisations during this period, Sakhis were able to achieve 200 which was 85% of the total target. The rest could not be reached as 28 beneficiaries were out of station and could not reached due to lockdown and another 5 could not get vaccine due to their poor health condition. The Sakhis assured to get all of them immunized as soon as the situation will be under control. 

o   Sagira Bibi from Dohitpur village shared: “My child age is 10 months and her name is Sahana Khatun. I was afraid that my child will not get her scheduled immunization. I contacted with private nursing home, but they also refused us. Sakhi Ajija Bibi contacted me and arranged vaccine at the centre and my child got measles vaccine on time.”
o   Pratima Kisku from Kalaidanga village shared: “My baby’s name is Ankita Hasda and her age is 9months. Sakhi didi at first informed me about today’s VHND session, but I forgot about it.  Then again Sakhi didi came to my house to provide mask and sanitizer to me and I visited the sub-center with her.”
o   Pinki Mandal from Dohitpur village shared: “Sakhi didi informed us about the immunization camp, but my family and I were terrified because of the way Corona was on the rise. Then Sakhi didi told me that they will arrange the camp properly by maintaining social distancing and will provide hand sanitizer. Then she visited Sub-center and her child got DPT-2, MR-2, and JE-2.”
Additionally in April 2020, 24 deliveries took place and despite the lockdown, health Sakhi’s helped to manage 22 institutional deliveries, which was 91% of the total delivery target. During lock down in April 2020, when the ambulance did not want to come to the village, SAKHIs called the health official directly and arranged a free ambulance for the ANC mothers. When the women of the village were in fear of COVID-19, SAKHIs were providing awareness on Corona virus, provided masks, sanitizer and personally took them to the hospital to help them with safe delivery. 

After safe delivery they are visiting the home of PNC mothers and taking care of both mothers and children undertaking measures like weight measurement, breath calculation of new born and also training mothers to take care of new born babies. The SAKHIs are doing these activities after maintaining proper guidelines and precautions like wearing mask, sanitizing properly and maintaining social distance for Covid -19.

o   Samima Bibi from Ranipur Village was at a remote village of Jharkhand in her maternal home during lockdown where there is no facility of hospital. Then her local Sakhi counseled her and made her agree to come to Ranipur village for safe delivery. The Sakhi called the ambulance but the driver disagreed to go to the village of Jharkhand. Then Sakhi didi paid 200 rupees to a driver from her own village and brought Samima to the Arjunpur hospital. But as her BP level was very low, the doctor referred to Jangipur SD Hospital and there she delivered a baby girl safely.

o   Ansuri Hembram wife of Samar Murmu from Kolaidanga Village reported that her husband who was a migrant labor was at Hyderabad and could not come back to home due to lockdown. In this period Sakhi regularly visited her home and took care of her. And then accompanied her to Beniagram hospital when she was facing labour pain and there she delivered a baby girl safely.

Kitchen Gardening turns into a blessing for Women

Here’s how 325 landless women labourers from Ropar district are earning an additional income during this lockdown period. 

Due to the current scenario we have seen how this pandemic has affected the whole world especially the lower class of the society. Most migrants and labourers are in panic mode hunting for additional source of income or food to survive. A similar situation was seen in ACF’s locations with landless labourers out of jobs due to the nationwide lockdown and farmers’ fields closed. 

But while most struggled, Sarabjit Kaur from Ropar, Punjab took solace from her humble backyard, which she had previously turned into a kitchen garden. Her husband being the only breadwinner from his small land, Sarabjit had decided to contribute to the family’s income by attending a ‘Kitchen Garden Training Program’ conducted by ACF in her village in 2018.  

Initially testing her backyard in a small area in 2019, in February 2020 she decided to increase the area of garden to bear more produce and help her family to sustain through the year. However, it wasn’t until the nationwide lockdown that she fully realized the benefits of kitchen gardening. By increasing her area, she was able to grow vegetables worth 200kgs which included lady finger, cucumber, bitter gourd, pumpkin, onion, eggplant and so on. 

As I was able to increase my backyard by acquiring the neighbouring vacant land, I got more produce which helped me to sell the vegetables in the local market three times since I initiated this practice,” said Sarabjit excitedly.

To support her in her eagerness to sell in the local markets during the lockdown, ACF helped arrange a pass for her from the Horticulture department and guided her in following stringent precautionary measures while venturing out - helping her to earn over Rs. 9000 from the Ropar market. Today, 4-5 villagers visit her home daily to collect fresh vegetables from her kitchen garden. She has also been able to earn Rs. 3,400 by selling her vegetables in the local village market. 
Sarabjit is just one of 325 women who have benefitted by growing fresh vegetables in their backyard with many of them selling their surplus in the local markets to also generate a livelihood. 

80% of these women are landless labourers harnessing just a small parcel of land in their backyard to protect their families during the virus by avoiding crowded markets - whilst earning an additional source of income and consuming fresh vegetables to support their own immunity. 

#Partners4Water Campaign

It’s the height of summer in India, and once again, the issue of water scarcity comes to the fore.  To spread awareness on the need for various stakeholders to join hands and #partner4water, ACF launched a digital campaign to promote collaboration in tackling the crisis. A live panel discussion is also scheduled on Friday, 5th 2020   which would include panelists like Rajendra Singh, Water Man of India, Magsaysay Award Winner, Indian Conservationist and Environmentalist, Niyati Sareen, Project Director- Water, Hinduja Foundation, Dr. Sanjay Belsare, Chief Engineer & Joint Secretary, Water Resource Department,, Government of Maharashtra and Pearl Tiwari, Director & CEO Ambuja Cement Foundation. This panel will discuss about the possibility to explore the relevance & contribution of WATER to the macro environment and livelihoods as well as the importance of continuing to invest in it. 

Here is the link to join in: 
Connecting from phone: 96700645103

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the use of water across the country, with increased demand for it due to increased washing and sanitising to decrease the risk of infection. The average household has a 30-50% increase in water demand to meet the recommended guidelines outlined by the Government to tackle COVID-19 – i.e. 10 x 20second hand wash per household using 1-2litre per person per hand wash.
In rural communities, where water is scarce, COVID-19 has further complicated the many complex issues surrounding water.
-        How to social distance whilst collecting water at wells/pumps?  
-        When there is barely enough water for daily needs, how to meet Government Guidelines for handwashing and sanitising to control COVID19 virus spread?
-        How to maintain hygiene at public water sources like hand pumps, public water distribution stands – when 40-50 families are using handles … how to maintain the hygiene and prevent contamination?
-        People use village ponds in some places for drinking water and in other places for bathing - how to ensure ponds do not get contaminated? 

Ambuja Cement Foundation has found that the water resilient communities where they have done extensive work, in collaboration with Government, Corporates, Civil Society and Communities, are better equipped to handle the increase in demand:
-        Households with their own Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting System are self-sufficient in water and can maintain social distancing norms.
-        Extensive work done on groundwater recharge has ensured that private and public wells are full.
-        Water distribution systems installed in communities have de-centralised access to water across village i.e. in Ambujanagar ACF promoted the installation of taps at household level, whilst other communities they increased the number of distribution points which means fewer people using each source. 
-        The revival of traditional systems of water harvesting has increased the capacity and availability of water year round which means communities are not facing water shortages during this time.

To explore ways in which you can #partner4water and help address India’s water crisis, contact brajeshsingh.tomar.ext@ambujacement.com for more information.