While a number of Rotary water projects such as laying pipelines and desilting water bodies are being carried out across the country, a survey by RC Bombay Hanging Garden, D 3141, found that these projects have limitations in the form of regular maintenance, power supply or logistics. And rural women are still put to extreme hardship as they have to walk at least 1.5–2 km twice a day to fetch 15–25 litres per trip for their household needs.
Taking into consideration the plight of these women, a five-member team led by Project Chairman Amrish Daftary is active in procuring and distributing water wheels — a compact wheel, made of high-density plastic and fitted with a handle — to households in Digras, Karjat and Akola taluks in Maharashtra. Each wheel can hold 45 litres of water. Recalling the exciting journey in the Water Wheel project, Daftary says that in the course of the study, he came across a “unique product developed by an American woman Cynthia Koenig on the website: wellowater.org. I contacted her for her product and she introduced me to the local manufacturer, Mitsuchem in Vapi, from whom we are now getting the water wheels.” Each water wheel costs around ₹2,000.
This rolling plastic toy-like contraption has put an end to the daily misery of women in getting water.
— Dilip Shah, President-elect, RC Bombay Hanging Garden
Since March 2016, the team has distributed over 1,000 water wheels in 21 villages. This means they have made easy the lives of 4,000 beneficiaries, if you consider every wheel serving a family of four. Water wheels are given only to those women who have no water source in their immediate vicinity and had to travel at least 1–1.5 km away from home to fetch a pail of water every day.
In the offing: A Global Grant
Working on the motto, Let’s make head-loading history, the club has so far spent over ₹20 lakh in distributing water wheels. The funds were met through donations and by member contributions. “We are planning to apply for a global grant to distribute over 2,000 water wheels in Karjat taluk covering 65 villages by next year,” says Daftary.
As a token gesture, RC Moorestown, D 7500, New Jersey, US, has donated $1,500 to the club for distributing 50 water wheels to beneficiaries in Kapeshwar village in Digras taluk. And the club is ready to partner with the home club for the global grant programme.
“This rolling plastic toy-like contraption has put an end to the daily misery of women in getting water,” says Dilip Shah, President-elect of the club.
The Water Wheel project won the Best Project Award at the Rotary World Water Day Seminar held in Mumbai. “Out of 12 clubs in our district who made presentations on their water projects, we were chosen for the top award based on three criteria — maximum beneficiaries, sustainability and uniqueness and we were feted in the presence of UN officials,” says Daftary.