Water Knowledge Resource Centers Work for Women’s Empowerment

On International Women’s Day, the NGO Safe Water Network hosted a virtual roundtable to present its ideas on how water vending machines not only provide affordable and safe access to water , but are operated as “water knowledge resource centers” with a beacon effect on women empowerment.

The session highlighted how the Water Knowledge Resource Centers (WKRCs) under USAID’s Sustainable Enterprises for Water & Health (SEWAH) project and the Safe Water Network have become essential in encouraging empowerment. economy of local women at the local level.

The WKRCs have evolved into an educational tool advocating inclusive and equitable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices for the benefit of communities to improve public health, especially the lives of women and girls .

WKRCs also connect and educate the local community on various government initiatives in the water sector and policies such as water conservation, non-revenue water reduction, rainwater harvesting and campaigns national ones such as Clean India, Pey Jal Survekshan, etc.

Accelerating the women’s empowerment movement, Safe Water Network, in partnership with SEWAH alliance partners, has expanded the initiative across 11 states and 24 cities in India.

D. Thara, IAS, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, MoHUA, said, “Women are at the center of water. It is extremely gratifying to see how women at the local level are becoming more aware of economic empowerment and the importance of consuming safe water. Easy access to safe water helps many women pursue a variety of micro-enterprises to earn their daily wages. The national AMRUT 2.0 program encourages women to actively participate in becoming water entrepreneurs.

Karen Klimowski, Deputy Mission Director, USAID, said, “At USAID, we believe gender equality is essential to transforming communities and countries. Access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities is essential to ensuring gender equality in maternal and newborn health, schooling and economic progress.

Poonam Sewak, Vice President – Program and Partnerships, Safe Water Network India, said, “At Safe Water Network India, women’s empowerment is at the heart of every conversation and community project we undertake. Along with the USAID-supported SEWAH program, we trained women as water management plant operators and community mobilizers.

These women, 548 water ATM operators and 152 water ATM entrepreneurs, now manage their water supplies and spread WASH education to the local community. They earn around 3,200 rupees a month from the income from the sale of water. These water vending machines have become hubs around which women even create small micro-enterprises like street food and Chai stalls to help people earn their daily wages. »

Parag Agarwal, Founder and CEO of JanaJal, said, “Everyone should have access to safe drinking water.

WASH activities primarily benefit women in urban slums and communities around the WKRC, empowering them economically and socially. Affordable 24/7 availability of drinking water and frequent conversations about the merits of drinking water have also benefited the trucking community who are a valuable part of our customer base and pass on the education WASH in their communities. »

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Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 10:28 a.m. IST

Mara R. Wilmoth