On International Women's Day, NGO Safe Water Network held a virtual roundtable to present its insights on how water ATMs are not only providing affordable, safe water access but are leveraged as 'Water Knowledge Resource Centres' having a lighthouse effect on Women Empowerment.
The session highlighted how Water Knowledge Resource Centres (WKRCs) under Project SEWAH (Sustainable Enterprises for Water & Health) of USAID and Safe Water Network have become pivotal in encouraging economic empowerment of local women at the grassroots level.
The WKRCs have transformed into an education tool advocating inclusive and equitable water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices benefitting communities to improve public health, especially the lives of women and girl children.
The WKRCs also connect and educate the local community about various Government initiatives in the water sector and policies such as water conservation, non-revenue water reduction, rainwater harvesting, and national campaigns like Clean India, Pey Jal Survekshan, etc.
Accelerating women empowerment movement, Safe Water Network, in partnership with SEWAH alliance partners, has scaled up 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 the water. It is profusely gratifying to see how women at the grassroots level are increasingly becoming aware of economic empowerment and the importance of consuming safe water. The easy access to safe water is helping several women pursue a variety of micro-enterprises to earn their daily wages. The national program AMRUT 2.0 encourages women to participate actively 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 ensure gender equality in maternal and newborn health, school attendance, and economic progress.”
Poonam Sewak, Vice President - Program & Partnerships, Safe Water Network India, said, "At Safe Water Network India, women empowerment is at the heart of every conversation and community project that we undertake. Along with the USAID supported-SEWAH program, we have been training women as Water ATM Plant Operators and Community Mobilisers.
These women, 548 as Water ATM operators and 152 Water ATM women entrepreneurs, now manage their water stores and disseminate WASH education to the local community. They earn about Rs 3,200 per month from the water sale revenue. These Water ATMs have become pivots around which women are setting up even small microenterprises like street food and chai stalls to help people earn their daily wage."
Parag Agarwal, Founder & CEO, JanaJal, said, "Everybody should have access to safe water.
The WASH activities majorly benefit women in urban slums and communities around WKRC, empowering them economically and socially. Affordable, 24x7 availability of clean drinking water and frequent conversations around merits of safe water has also benefitted the community of truck drivers who are a valuable part of our consumer base and are carrying WASH education back to their communities."
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