An exemplary, replicable, scalable project

Some of the most beautiful things come in small packages, it is said. But small is much more than beautiful, it has the potential to bloom into a much larger image or clone of itself. A small and simple idea that is replicable and can be scaled up is exactly the sustainability mantra that Rotary International has been advocating. Hence, when the Rotary Club of Jalna Midtown sent Rotary News a small write-up with a few staid pictures of the club having distributed one lakh Shudhu tablets which cost them Re 1, a heavily subsidised price given by the manufacturer, free of cost to 3,300 families in Jalna town in Maharashtra and its surrounding villages, it caught the eye. This tiny pill, when put in a pot of 15 to 20 litres of water can purify it in less than 30 minutes. It sounds like a very small project — after all one lakh tablets cost the club only Rs 1,00,000. But imagine what this seed of an idea — I heard Jalna described as the seed capital of India here — can do to solve the huge drinking water problem of India, where millions do not have access to safe drinking water. Anup Karwa, the young president of the club where all the 65 members are under 40, has been smart enough to get a commitment from the manufacturer assuring supply of this tablet to Rotarians at Re 1 for the next two years. The same tablet is supplied to the Indian Army and was also distributed during the Chennai and Gujarat floods by the manufacturer.

The club members were surprised, but also exhilarated, to have the Editor of their magazine volunteering to travel to Jalna to tell the story from ground zero. I made the trip because this club of youngsters had another bigger and more impactful water purification project coming up — Project Taral. This involves fitting a bioreactor, which recently won the national innovation award for 2017, and can be fitted on any hand pump. It uses vacuum, thermodynamics, pressure and temperature to purify water by killing microbes. A ‘fit and forget’ solution, the cost of the device, along with the labour, is between Rs 12,000–15,000, and ensures that the water dispensed by the hand pump is safe and edible.

It was heartening to see the presence of senior Rotarians and members from the other three clubs in Jalna at the inauguration of Taral in a primary school. Politics, unhealthy competition, rivalry seemed absent. The result was a beaming Kiran Authi, the headmistress of the zilla parishad school, saying that the Rotarians had virtually adopted her school! Even though a very modest, two-room building without a compound wall, where the children sat on the floor, the school was spanking clean, and thanks to Jalna’s Rotarians, it has a big Sintex water tank, 80 per of its curriculum has the e-learning component, and many health care needs of the disadvantaged children have been taken care of by the Rotarians.

Read the cover story to find how absenteeism came down in the schools this monsoon season, as waterborne diseases like diarrhoea, jaundice, typhoid, etc were checked by the tiny Shudhu tablet. By taking care of the health care and educational needs of our children, Rotary clubs in India are making an invaluable contribution to India’s march towards progress and development. After all, you Rotarians did work so tirelessly to make India Polio-free, didn’t you?

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Rasheeda Bhagat

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