NM Sadguru Water and Development Foundation started its drinking water intervention in 2009-10. Under this, it has so far implemented about 100 hamlets-based decentralized drinking water supply schemes in 50 tribal villages in Dahod district. The organization learned few important lessons from the people’s experience with the previous interventions done in the region. Huge centralized drinking water supply systems for tribal households for an entire village are not very successful, as the households are scattered in the hamlets in a village. Such centralized schemes also lacked ownership.
NM Sadguru’s discussions with community members revealed that in order to make the drinking water programme a successful intervention, there has to be a fundamental change in the design of the scheme. Hence, hamlet-based decentralized drinking water supply schemes were constructed to successfully cater to the need of households of a particular hamlet. Further, community ownership has increased and management, operation and maintenance of the scheme became smoother. Involvement of SHG women in the programme has been the most striking feature of N M Sadguru’s intervention to provide drinking water. In fact, it is the women folk who bear the brunt when it comes to collection/fetching of drinking water in rural areas. Therefore, their involvement is vital in order to make the intervention successful and to ensure its sustainability.
Pani Samiti – an institution at hamlet/faliya level manages the drinking water supply scheme. It consists of 20-35 women members representing all households in the faliya. They are actually the members of the SHG of that hamlet. Collection of water charges, regular chlorination of the sources, operation and maintenance of the assets are the roles and responsibilities that the members of Pani Samiti perform. Pani Samitis hold meetings on a monthly basis. During the meeting, they collect water charges from the member households of the faliya. Matters related to operation, repair and maintenance aspects of the scheme are also discussed during the meeting. President and secretary deposit the water charges collected during the meeting in a bank a/c of the Pani Samiti. Hamlet-based Pani Samiti of women members is sustainable as the members own the scheme and have an in-depth understanding of the functioning of the drinking water supply system. Regular supply of water equitably to each household and regular collection of water charges are the success sutra of the drinking water scheme by Pani Samiti.