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A sixfold path to sustainable and inclusive innovations

Rethinking price points and breaking these into affordable units can radically increase affordability of a product or service.

Aakash Ganga (AG), or River from Sky, is a rainwater harvesting system currently installed in six drought-prone villages in Rajasthan, the driest state in India. Founded by BP Agrawal, the AG system rents rooftops from homeowners and channels the rooftop rainwater through gutters and pipes to a network of underground storage reservoirs. This network of reservoirs is designed to provide 10-12 litres of water daily to every person in an entire village for a year. It has helped over 10,000 villagers gain access to clean water. Agrawal is now working with local, state and national governments for widespread adoption of AG.

Agrawal created a simple, self-sustaining execution plan – villagers rent their rooftops to others, enabling them to sell water and collect what they view as ‘free money’. Almost 70 per cent of the harvested water is sold or used for individual families; the rest goes to horticulture. This dramatically improves sanitation, creates revenue to compensate each entrepreneur, and covers operating costs. Additionally, the access to drinking water frees time for girls to attend school and for women to be more economically productive.

‘AG demonstrates an alternative model that provisions water in lieu of the typical inefficient, poorly performing public-works projects. Agrawal’s system functions as a hybrid of a social enterprise and a public-private-community partnership, and takes great care to be attentive to social issues surrounding caste, class and gender.’

(‘Aakash Ganga: Saving Water for a Rainy Day’, India Knowledge@Wharton, http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/india/article.cfm?articleid=4397[accessed 20 July 2010])

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