The World Bank has contributed to the water and sanitation sector in India since 1991. It has also partnered with the government in order to ensure better delivery of water, sanitation and health (WASH) services to citizens. In Punjab, the World Bank partnered with the respective government to improve delivery of WASH services in rural areas of the state. By crowdsourcing data using Akvo Flow and Akvo Caddisfly and employing a participatory approach involving local communities, the project aimed to create both a demand for good quality water services and an adequate response from government authorities.
Above: Akvo staff training people from the District Water Supply and Sanitation Committee (DWSSC), the government of Punjab, and village citizens on water quality testing and digital data collection. Punjab, India, November 2016.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
Planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning (PMEL)
Water quality is a major concern in India. Punjab, a state in Northern India, is one of the worst affected states, with concoction of contaminants including fluoride, arsenic, nitrate and radioactive elements found in the groundwater aquifers in the region. Over the years, several efforts have been made to improve the water quality situation in Punjab, but creating local demand from end users and adequate responses from duty bearers remains a challenge.
Initiated in 2016, this pilot project promotes drinking water quality awareness and testing practices among citizens of three different villages in the Amritsar district of Punjab. Using a participative approach, the pilot involved community in essential citizen science and local governance issues. It involved introducing the mobile–based tool for monitoring water quality parameters, Akvo Caddisfly, and training community staff of the punjab rural water supply and sanitation department on collecting data on water quality.
Akvo Caddisfly was used to cover six chemical and biological parameters of water quality in the pilot, including electrical conductivity, total iron, pH, free chlorine, nitrate and faecal coliform. The collected data was uploaded in real time and managed within a database using Akvo Flow. Based on the data collected by the citizens, Akvo developed an interactive dashboard to visualise water quality information and results through spatial maps.
water quality parameters
Crowdsourcing data in the pilot proved to be a great opportunity for citizens to engage in testing and understanding the quality of their own drinking water. The data gathered by citizens can now be used by various government agencies and other duty bearers to improve water management.
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