Women, Water and Work

Provide equitable access to safe drinking & livelihood water managed by women leading to sustainability – environment, economic and social.

Photo of Bharati Bhavsar
0 3

Written by

I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Mahila SEWA Trust (MST)

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • India

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Country1: Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Bodeli, Kheda/ Anand, Kutch, Patan, Surendranagar, Sabarkantha, Mehsana, Dungarpur and more



Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

The poor women members of SEWA from the Informal Economy are most affected by the crisis making their lives and livelihoods more vulnerable. Experiencing various water problems, SEWA members message was – “Clean water is basic right, we cannot live without water, without water we cannot be healthy, our employment is severely affected due to lack of water, we migrate with families & animals, because without water we cannot survive”.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The members demanded to (a) develop sources of drinking water, (b) Local women’s control to manage water sources, (c) collect and save rain water. Working towards this with integrated approach, strategies & openness towards change / innovations converted crisis into opportunities. SEWA’s Women, Water & Work Campaign led to decentralized local water management in the dry / drought prone areas resulting into (a) equitable access to safe drinking / household / livelihood water, (b) employment / income opportunities to rural communities, (c) construction of roof rainwater harvesting structures, (d) cadre of grass root technicians receiving regular contracts for repairs & maintenance of water structures, (c) revival of traditional water resources. This has further lead to nature & environment conservation, livelihood/ food security and reduced migration amongst poor community members.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

The 3 fold Impacts are 1. Natural Resource Development-Soil productivity increased by conservation of moisture in 400 villages also waste land developed. Increased agro produces crop patterns by water harvesting in 224 Pond, 168 Well Repairing. More drinking water through the recharge and conservation 84,744,000 litre rain water. Soak pit 3996, Hand Pump Repairing & Maintenance 3848, Plastic Lind Pond 6, Washing Ghats 21, Bathing Ghats 3, Cattle trough 49, Toilets 2350, Check dams 8, Water quality testing 297 sources, bacteriological testing of 300 sources 132 hand pump platforms are repaired. Protection of environment in desert area. 2.Human Resource Development-Increased livelihoods especially water based, better use of Natural Resources through awareness campaigns.Women based Cadre of local barefoot water managers / technicians / mechanics / committee leaders and members 3.Social Economic Development-Increase in savings, productivity and reduction in migration, malnutrition

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

1. Individual donations or gifts 2. Grants 3. Corporate contributions 4. Earned income 5. Other Initially the initiative was financially supported by grants. The active involvement of the grassroots women in the water campaign and the importance that is given to building their capacity ensures that the outputs and impacts of the campaign are sustainable. For instance, the barefoot women hand pump technicians of Anand/ Kheda and Sabarkantha district, once who got trained as water committee, are doing hand pump repairing in their district for the past 20 years and breakdown of the hand pumps are minimized without any external support. 4023 RRWHT are constructed with beneficiary contribution of 10-15% from the household and further is replicated and constructed without support

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Community based participation under women’s leadership through awareness programmes & technical trainings. SEWA’s model rests on the ideas of equality, community mobilization, women’s leadership at the village-level, and creating a cadre of technicians and trainers at grassroots level leading to sustainability. All this has has demonstrated sustainability in various ways - Financial, Managerial, Human Resources etc.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

“It takes so long to get water, where is the time to take up income-geenration activities? Irrigation is important but first we want drinking water for ourselves and for our cattle. If we get water closer to our homes, we can undertake animal husbandry, craft work and come to SEWA meetings. Fetching water from far, even during pregnancy, tells on our health. How can tired and weak women undertake income generation activities?”- voice of SEWA members in 2001. To meet out this need SEWA initiated its Women, Water and Work – Millenium Campaign with an aim to access to clean drinking water is the primary right of every human being as it is basic necessity of life. This also included training to barefoot grass root women in operation & management of water resources, construction of new, revival of water resources, conservation of rain water resulting in better lives & livelihood

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact
View more

Attachments (5)

Barefoot Water Technicians in Sabarkantha.pdf

Barefoot Water Technicians in Sabarkantha

01 Field note.pdf

Field note Water management


Field note Hand pumps

SEWA WASH Brochure 17042017.pdf

SEWA WASH Brochure


Join the conversation: