On Wednesday Arghyam took Thomas, Anke, Gino, Gabriel and myself to see the Sacheta drinking water project, near Bagepalli in Karnataka state, India.

This is a perfect example of the kind of relatively small project Akvo aims to energise, on a very large scale, by matching more funds to projects and making progress visible online.

Photo: The kids loved being filmed by Akvo’s Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson in the village. See his short movie about the project below.

The area suffers severe fluoride contamination in the ground and this has directly affected the drinking water supply. Many of the population now suffer debilitating illness, such as severe skeletal pain. The solution has been to introduce rainwater harvesting systems that capture water from the roofs of local homes. The project is transforming the health of 4581 families in 27 villages and is innovative in encouraging use of harvested water only for drinking and cooking, a key way to drive responsible use and maintenance of the systems.

We wanted to understand not just the aims of the project but how the reporting process back to funders can be simplified. We talked at length with Mr K. Ragunath, the project officer at field NGO BAIF, to understand the kind of reports he has to produce for the government and other partners, and also measure the level of technology available to the field team.

Thomas filmed the visit with his new low cost Ultra Flip camcorder and you can see this short film below and on YouTube here. The kids in the village we visited loved the cameras too (note their teeth shouldn’t be this white – that’s the fluoride at work). See a full set of photos from the trip here.

Rainwater harvesting – Sacheta, India from Mark Charmer on Vimeo.

Our thanks go to Nelson Royal, associate project manager, Manohar Roa, project manager and Vijay Krishna, manager of the India Water Portal, all from Arghyam, for escorting us and providing so much useful insight.