Home to over 1.3 billion people, India is the world’s largest democracy and is composed of 29 states and 7 union territories. Separated from mainland Asia by the Himalayas, the country is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Arabian Sea in the west, and the Indian Ocean to the south. India is a country of great cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity.

According to the most recent Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) Report by UNICEF and WHO, 97% of people in urban areas and 91% in rural areas have access to safe water. Access to improved sanitation is much lower, with 60% of urban and 25% of rural dwellers using improved sanitation facilities. These numbers, however, do not provide an accurate and complete picture of water and sanitation access in India. Across the country, there is a wide disparity in access to safe water and sanitation among districts and access in the rural areas where Water For People-India works is significantly lower.

History of Program

Water For People began working in India in 1996, with a small pilot project in West Bengal to help eliminate naturally occurring arsenic in water supplies. In 2007, Water For People established a full-fledged country program with an office in Kolkata, and by the end of 2010 had programming in several districts in West Bengal. In 2012, Water For People expanded operations to Sheohar in the state of Bihar and this year to the Jajpur District in Odisha and the town of Chaksu in Rajasthan State. This year, India’s headquarters office moved from Kolkata to New Delhi.

Everyone Forever

Everyone Forever is a unique programmatic effort to provide water and sanitation to Everyone in targeted districts and municipalities, Forever. It means these districts and communities will not need to rely on water agencies to address their water challenges. And it provides a model for greater replication, leading to a push for national full water and sanitation coverage. Water For People-India is focusing its Everyone Forever efforts in two blocks in the district of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal, all five blocks in the district of Sheohar in Bihar, two blocks of Jajpur in Odisha, and Chaksu Municipality in the Jaipur district of Rajasthan.

Water For People believes long-lasting water and sanitation solutions can be achieved when all players-the private sector, civil society, and local government-are supported in a way that enables them to understand and act upon their areas of responsibility and support community water supply and sanitation development. As such, Water For People convenes, partners, and builds the skills of the district, block governments, Gram Panchayat and Panchayati Raj Institutions (community governments in rural areas) where programming is targeted, local self-help groups and community based organizations, and local non-governmental organizations.


### Permanent Solutions Require Innovative Initiatives | Mobile Mechanics: Jalabandhu In India, as in many other countries, many bore wells and hand pumps installed to supply safe drinking water are broken and non-operational due to poor maintenance. Water For People-India is working to solve this problem and create long-lasting water solutions through a mobile mechanics program that trains local youth to provide regular preventive maintenance and timely repair of water systems, paid by fees from communities and local governments. This program is known as Jalabandhu (‘Friends of Water’) and provides training to entrepreneurs to maintain and repair hand pumps, and connects the Jalabandhu to communities.

Jalabandhu participants are independent businesses earning their income solely from communities, schools, and local governments. While the Jalabandhu program began in South 24 Parganas, it has successfully expanded into several other blocks and districts, including East Medinipur, Murshidabad, and Sheohar, with over 261 Jalabandhu trained. Jalabandhu now work in 16 blocks in India, and have reduced the downtime of water systems from 30 days to 24 hours.

Sustainable Sanitation

Sanitation solutions are an integral component of Water For People-India’s work, and are developed alongside water solutions. Water For People-India promotes sustainable sanitation through a market-driven, research-based approach. A Sanitation Hub (SaniHub) drives research and piloting of new sanitation products, such as a modular toilet super structure, a modular septic tank, and pit-emptying tools.

Additionally, Water For People-India has developed a voucher scheme and an e-catalogue to promote sanitation demand. The voucher scheme was developed to take advantage of household subsidies provided by the government to construct improved pit latrines. Customers and service suppliers are assured that government subsidies will be available, and that there is a verification process in place to ensure quality construction.

The e-catalogue operates on a mobile tablet and allows customers to construct a latrine to fit their needs, view the latrine plan, and calculate costs. The tool promotes Water For People-India’s belief that people will only use a latrine if they find it desirable. These demand-generating activities require a strong supply chain. To promote that supply chain, Water For People works with Business Development Service suppliers to support sanitation entrepreneurs through trainings, business planning, and product supply.

Gender-sensitive Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Education in Secondary Schools

Water For People-India is empowering the next generation of women by making female students the designers of new water and sanitation facilities in secondary schools. Girls now actively participate in the design of new facilities and work closely with Water For People–India and its partners to construct water and sanitation systems that meet the needs of students and teachers. The new structures include girl-friendly features, such as access to sanitary napkins, changing rooms, simple incinerators to dispose of used menstrual cloths/pads, and separate hand-washing and sanitation facilities.

Complementary Programming

While efforts are concentrated in the Everyone Forever target districts, Water For People-India continues to test innovative programming in other districts of West Bengal. In North 24 Parganas and Nadia, our team is working to refine arsenic removal technology and ensure the sustainability of these systems in schools and communities while implementing school sanitation solutions. In East Medinipur, Water For People-India is working in coordination with the government to reach full water and sanitation coverage in all high schools in 5 blocks of the district. Water For People works together with partners and schools to implement water, sanitation, and hygiene education in schools and organize student-led water and sanitation committees to maintain infrastructure and promote behavior change.

  • Safdar Ali
  • Ashok  Biswakarma
  • Dipa  Biswas
  • Raju Gorain
  • Samrat  Gupta
  • Vidyanshu Kumar
  • Suraj Kumar Kumar
  • Santosh Kumar
  • Gautam Kumar Pandey
  • Tarun  Maity
  • Utpal K.  Manna
  • Swagato  Mitra
  • Rajashekharan  Nair
  • Meena Narula
  • Saurya Sekhar Pal
  • Vivek Sharan
  • Kushendra Singh Negi
  • Sujata  Tripathy

Our numbers are based off the following data:

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