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In Hilly Areas, Springs Are Hope Eternal For A Water-Secure Future

Originally posted @

Shreehari Paliath (2014-16 batch) is a part of Research and Advocacy at Arghyam. He can be reached at

Nandini sits coyly in the first row of her class, leaning against an unplastered pillar. The school is a dark, dull brick structure where the children sit on a mud floor as they recite after their teacher. There are only 25 in out of the usual strength of 42. The others have skipped school to buy goods at the santé (weekly market) with their families. Nandini smiles, looks down, and nods her head when asked if she goes to the spring to fetch water with her mom before coming to class. Nandini isn’t alone. Infact she is the norm in the hills of the Eastern Ghats near Narsipatnam town in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. Most girls, some barely 10 years old, are burdened with the chore of fetching pots of water along with the female members for their family’s daily needs before they head for school.

State governments and NGOs are encouraging the use of springs as clean sources of water across India, considering they cater to 20 million people…

Sample this. Women here (including young schoolgoing girls) spend almost five hours a day fetching water. This means making five to eight trips depending upon the season, number of people in the family, and those who can assist in fetching water. Each of the pots average around 15 litres and the women carry three to four, one on top of the other each trip, uphill or down. On a rainy day the task of securing water for the family risks limb and life. Unlike the plains, the distance isn’t the only hurdle. A 100-metre walk to a spring source might seem harmless. But the slippery, rocky precipice or a water-logged trail is arduous, with a possibility of proving fatal. Yet, there is no way around the drudgery until standposts with dependable water supply are made available. Across the world, especially among the poor, the burden of fetching water is borne by women while men eke out a living doing odd jobs or agricultural work. According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), women and girls collectively spend as much as 200 million hours—or more than 22,800 years— every day fetching water. These Ghats are home to Adivasi communities such as the Agathas, Valmikis, Khond Dora and Khond Savara. Within these numerous communities that often share spaces of habitation, the act of procuring water is located within the silos of gender hierarchies.

The most common source of drinking water supply in these hills, in the recent years, has been groundwater tapped via borewells. But due to the various forms of contamination (geogenic and anthropogenic) like mining, drilling, land-use changes and so on, the water in many locations is unfit for drinking. It is under these circumstances in the mountainous and hilly regions of India that the traditional sources—springs—have become an important source for water. For generations, this was where an adivasi quenched her thirst. For many of us city-slickers the source of water may seem to begin and end at the twist of a tap; a luxury most families here have not experienced. That is slowly changing.

The potential benefits of conserving and maintaining springs in remote parts of India has been substantial. The foremost is the time saved.

State governments and NGOs are encouraging the use of springs as clean sources of water across India, considering they cater to 20 million people, 80% of whom live in the Himalayas, and the Western and Eastern Ghats. Innovative techniques such as the Gravity Fed Water Supply System (GFWSS) are being deployed. This is done by securing the spring as a source from human and animal contamination and allowing natural elevation and hydraulics, and basic infrastructure to establish a water supply. Not only is it cost-effective, it requires minimal maintenance and facilitates community participation that allows local decision-making. Its replicability has made it popular within communities. A typical GFWSS that serves about 100 households costs around ₹6 lakh including hardware costs of ₹4.5 lakh and human resource and software costs of ₹1.5 lakh. For a habitation of about 100 households, this amount translates to ₹6000/household. An average five-member family, therefore, can be served at ₹1200 per person as a one-time investment. It is an amount that can be spared by the communities without stretching them too much financially.

The potential benefits of conserving and maintaining springs in remote parts of India has been substantial. The foremost is the time saved. For women, being able to walk across the street next to their homes to fill a pot of water has opened up time for other chores. It has provided children a regular and safe access to water. This has translated into an increase in attendance in schools. Interestingly, the hills have seen an increase in construction of houses due to the regular supply of water. This has meant a proliferation of pakka buildings.

Initiatives like these are being made to ensure villages are water secure. Springs being numerous and often ignored, need to be protected to suit the needs of the local communities and ecosystems. There are many Nandinis in our country whose lives need to be enriched and secured. Persevere we must.


Project Associate – Governance Centre WRI India

Location: Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi

To apply please follow this link:

WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in the Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, and the United States. Our more than 450 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action to sustain our natural resources—the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being.

WRI was recently voted the #1 Environmental Think Tank in the world and is consistently recommended by staff as one of the “most desired organizations to work for.” In 2014, WRI was ranked one of the Top Workplaces by the Washington Post

Position Overview

You will be a subject matter expert in the areas of urban governance, and governance issues in specific sectors (energy, forests, water, climate) in India. You will facilitate program management and contribute to the development of high quality research products that are designed to inform targeted audiences.

Your primary responsibility will be to support the development of a 3-year governance strategy, designed to ensure that various WRI India programs and projects are designed to achieve both sectoral and governance-related outcomes – including reducing poverty, more inclusive decision making, tackling inequity and inequality, and overcoming gender disparities. The strategy will also seek to support and encourage governments’ adoption of transparent, responsive, participatory and accountable practices, so as to lead to more equitable and efficient decisions. Once the strategy has been discussed and adopted, you will be responsible for assisting in the implementation and management of the strategy.


You will handle a range of program responsibilities as are listed below.

Research & Knowledge: (30% of time required)

  • Authoring or co-authoring knowledge products (e.g., reports, briefs, data-products).
  • Reviewing project plans and proposals written by WRI India programs and providing governance-focused inputs and guidance
  • Reviewing 2-4 knowledge products written by other WRI researchers yearly.

Program/Project Management (40% of time required)

  • In collaboration with senior level staff, help develop strategy, manage outcomes and partnerships.
  • Monitoring and managing project deliverables, setting and clarifying priorities for team members.
  • Monitoring and managing project budget performance, scoping progress according to planned milestones, expenses and revenue, and internal and donor reporting.

Program Development (30% of time required)

  • Identifying opportunities for governance-focused interventions for WRI India teams to make an impact and mainstream good governance elements in their respective work plans
  • Identifying and developing funding partner relationships through external outreach
  • Contributing to research proposals, reports, presentations and donor proposals

Additionally, in keeping with WRI’s commitment to gender equity across our programs, you will also be required to identify relevant gender issues, as determined through a gender analysis, and ensure adequate and effective attention to these issues in project and partner development, budgeting and management.

Required Qualifications:

  • Masters in related field
  • Minimum 2-3 years of full-time work experience in relevant field, with program implementation and project management experience
  • Exceptionally good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strong commitment to and understanding of the environmental and socio-economic development movement and sustainability issues in India
  • Strong analytical research skills
  • Fluency in English and at least one vernacular language
  • Detail-oriented and organized thinker who can juggle multiple, competing priorities
  • Ability to travel when needed
  • Foreign nationals applying must have valid permits for work in India

Final candidates will be required to take a writing/analytical test.

Location: Any of WRI India offices (Delhi, Mumbai or Bengaluru), India

Policy in Action Program in Bengaluru | Live Projects with MPs

Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC India) is bringing the Policy in Action program to Bengaluru.

Founded by Harvard and Oxford alumni, Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC) creates transformative learning experiences to equip young people with skills that enable them to lead change in society.


Their Policy in Action Program is a project-based four week engagement for university students and young professionals.This is ideal for those who wish to develop a better understanding of public policy and development. It is designed to give participants a sneak peek into the policy making process in India, while at the same time building on their leadership and communication skills. Participants also get an opportunity to work on live projects for Members of Parliament and develop core skills like policy analysis and advocacy.
With a mix of weekend sessions and remote collaboration with peers, the program schedule is easy to accommodate along with regular university and work commitments. The program begins on the weekend of 18th February and ends on 19th March.

To apply, click here.  Applications are open till 29th Jan 2017. If you have more questions, see the FAQs.


Job Vacancies in Tata Trusts, Vijayawada PMU

There are job vacancies in Tata Trusts, Vijayawada Project Management Unit.

Domain: Nutrition and Governance

Location : Base office is in Vijayawada

Language Requirement: Fluency in Telugu Language (Read, speak)

Please note that the candidate should be willing to work for at least a year in Vijayawada.

Please find attached the job description for the role. Interested people may email their resumes to  by 15-01-2017. 

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Two openings with Center for Youth and Social Development, Odisha

Location:  Odisha

CYSD (Centre for Youth and Social Development) is a leading organization in the state of Odisha, established in 1982, works for the development of deprived and marginalized people in the remotest areas of Odisha. With a vision of facilitating a society where communities are able to make their own choices, meet their survival needs and lead a self-reliant and sustainable life with dignity. 

The two job profiles are attached at the bottom of this post.

The interested candidates may send their CV to We will review their profile and will set interview (telephonic/face to face) with the candidates as per their convenience.

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job-profile-spa ]

Dec 30 | Discussion | Rights of Persons from the North East Living in Bangalore

The Human Rights Project at the Azim Premji University, North East Solidarity Forum and the Alternative Law Forum invite you for a discussion on the rights of persons from the North East living in Bangalore.

The discussion is on December 30th (Friday) at the Alternative Law Forum, at 6 pm.

The discussion is in light of the recent judgment of a full bench of the Supreme Court of India in Karma Dorjee v Union of India ( The court has given many directions including the implementation of the Bezbaruah Committee Report on the “Concerns of the people of the North East living in other parts of the country”. The report and the Supreme Court decision have come about in the background of a slew of attacks on persons from the North East in Delhi.

The discussion will look at the implications of these developments in the context of Bangalore, a city that is still reeling from the exodus of people from the North East in 2012. The discussion will be lead by Dr. Rini Ralte, President of the North East Solidarity Forum and the members of the Human Rights Project at the Azim Premji University.

Seminar on Nation, Community, and Citizenship, NIAS, January 9-10

The School of Social Sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru, is organising a National Seminar on ‘Nation, Community, and Citizenship in Contemporary India’, on January 9-10, 2017, to commemorate the birth centenary of Prof. M.N. Srinivas. The seminar is sponsored by ICSSR.

Attached please find the programme.

The seminar will be limited primarily to invited participants, but we have a few seats open for interested students and scholars. Participation is by registration only. If you wish to attend, please write to:

nias-national-seminar-jan-9-10-final-programme ]



Assistant Manager – Library Educators Course, Parag Initiative

Position: Assistant Manager, Library Educators Course (LEC), Parag Initiative, Tata Trusts

Location: Delhi or Mumbai

Last Date for application: 1st January 2017

Tata Trust’s Parag initiative focuses on promoting reading for pleasure through development and use of children’s books in Indian languages. Initiative works to support development of quality books, build capacity of authors, illustrators and teachers/librarians, setting up vibrant libraries etc. Library Educators Course (LEC) is a 7-month blended course for teachers / librarians / educators to help them develop understanding, perspective and skills of setting up and running vibrant libraries that create lifelong interest in reading for pleasure. Please read about the course before you apply for this position. The link to course website is

This programme is offered through Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE), an associate organization seeded by Tata Trusts.

If you have any questions, feel free to write to
Kindly do not post your CV on this id.
CVs submitted without responding to questions will not be considered.

Project Lead – PMC LIFT School Project, Thermax Foundation

The Project Lead’s role provides an incredible opportunity to design and execute a quality intervention in partnership with Pune Municipal Corporation School Board. It’s an opportunity to lead a diverse team to drive quality educational outcomes and create proof points of excellence to inspire the systemic change at scale. It’s an opportunity to work with teachers, school leaders, government partners, different organizations & partner NGOs and to further develop systemic and adaptive leadership to lead the change.

The Project Lead’s role directly reports to Manager-CSR, TF who heads LIFT (Program & Operations) and reports to TF Board. The LIFT School Project team at present comprises a team of Program Managers (PMs) and each one of them is responsible for driving the school improvement program in 2-3 schools. The role of Project Lead entails the opportunity to lead the diverse team to achieve the objectives of the intervention and is expected to work collaboratively with Impact Manager and Partner Engagement Manager.

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RA position at NIAS

This is an urgent requirement so there is a deadline of January 10th. We will also looking for interns from Azim Premji University.

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