More than just safe water, an RO plant is boosting women’s self-confidence
In Karnataka’s Gadhar village where an RO filter plant was recently installed with the help of the women in the village Self Help Group, things have become different in more ways than one. Not only do people have easier access to safe drinking water, but the women who have undertaken the responsibility of operating and maintaining the pay-for-use service of the RO plant, feel exhilarated to be able to earn some money and run an enterprise on their own.
“Just because we are women, we are expected to stay home, not go out to work,” Rajamma, 32, said, “The RO plant has changed all that.”
There was a time, not very long ago when the community in Gadhar village in the Raichur district would have to rely on private vendors to buy their drinking water. Getting several pots of water was no mean task and it was usually the men who would get the water on their bikes. If water were to run out during the day when male members were out at work, women would struggle to get their household chores done. And although they spent quite a lot of money on buying water—INR 10 per bottle plus the fuel charges—it would ‘smell of bleach’.
Hence, when WaterAid India in association with Water.Org intervened and spread awareness about the importance of drinking safe water, and introduced to them the idea of installing an RO filter plant in the village itself, the women were completely in support. The Self Help Group contributed financially towards setting up of the RO plant and took over its operation and maintenance.
“We women in the SHG make sure that the RO plant is always clean,” Rajamma said, “There is a waterman appointed who ensures that the filters in the RO plant are clean and well-maintained.” The women maintain a logbook of the money earned each day. A person is charged INR 5 to fill a 20-litre can and Rajamma said that with more awareness about drinking safe water, they aim to get 100 cans filled every day, morning to night.
Within 15 days of its operation, the SHG started earning a profit from the RO plant. “The electricity charges, maintenance charges, and waterman’s salary are given from the profit earned,” Rajamma said. After some thought she added, “I am very happy to be running a business. The RO plant has given me and the others the confidence to do so.”