Rainwater for Humanity

Rainwater for Humanity harvests rain to provide clean water, boost community health, and empower women in Kuttanad, India. With creative engineering, we construct sustainable, eco-friendly rainwater storage reservoirs that provide households without pipe water connection a constant source of clean water. We also train local women in managing the reservoirs, improving their economy by providing them alternative ways to earn vital income.
Feb 19, 2014

New Year Update

Sam and Jibin on the field
Sam and Jibin on the field

For R4H, the new year is an exciting time. In the past month, our team has conducted extensive strategic planning.

Sam, our President, was in India negotiating a partnership with a local NGO, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, and training our newly hired Program Manager, Jibin. His 3 weeks on-site were very productive in terms of training our promising new employee and setting up connections in new villages for future construction. We accomplished a survey of the new village site residents, marking the first pre-tank impact report for 2014.

On the US side, Daniella, our Vice President, traveled to San Francisco to attend a week’s-worth of workshops and networking events at notable places such as Odesk, Salesforce, and YCombinator, ending with a 10-minute pitch to a panel of Venture Capitalists. This conference provided the opportunity to be immersed in the start-up environment and connect with successful entrepreneurs who have gone through (and survived!) the challenging process our team is now facing.

We gained a lot of insights from these experiences, particularly about the future trajectory of R4H and the choices we have in front of us. 

This year’s primary goal is to set up an official entity, which will operate separately from the Brown University R4H student group. In doing so, we will be taking the first step in securing the long-term international operation of the organization.

Another key goal this year is the development of new catchment and storage technology that is both cheaper and more efficient. We have been pursuing tank optimization since the project began, but we believe the re-design is more important now than ever if we hope to reduce costs and truly realize our sustainability goals.

An additional priority is establishing a partnership with MSSRF. This NGO’s local presence, credibility, and administrative support will help us get up and running these first few years. 

Our team is excited about the months to come, and we thank you for all of your support of our venture so far!

Community meeting at new village site
Community meeting at new village site
Daniella pitching to VC panelists
Daniella pitching to VC panelists

Attachments:
Nov 19, 2013

Fall 2013 Update

Since you last heard from us, our team has been working hard to bring you new and exciting developments! As we had reported, two of our members traveled to our India site to accomplish the set goals. They visited the pilot village of Achinakom, examining each tank individually. With the help of MGU’s School of Environmental Sciences facilities, water quality tests were performed on all 13 systems, revealing a high quality standard with low contaminants. Surveys were also gathered from participating villagers, and responses remained consistently positive.

Perhaps more significantly, we have forged a partnership with the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) through local connections. Moving away from the academic focus our previous university partner (MGU) brought, we believe this step will bring us closer to implementing a self-sustaining business model and attaining large-scale social impact. As an established NGO, MSSRF will share organizational infrastructure with R4H—providing office space and regular project account audits that are essential to success, but difficult to come by for smaller groups like ours. The collaboration will be the first in MSSRF’s new Water Development Program (initiated September 2013). With the leadership and overhead support of the program’s director, Deepak Depanshandi, we expect frequent communication and mutual success. Details of the agreement are currently being discussed, and the final version will be signed by both R4H and MSSRF in January 2014.

We are also happy to report the hiring of our first, full-time Program Manager. His name is Jibin Thomas and he is a local resident of Kuttanad region of Kerala, where our operations take place. Our US project leaders were able to interview him for the position in August and were impressed with his passion for the community and experience in other social projects. Jibin was still attending law school in the state capital then, but has since graduated and is ready to begin working under the new R4H-MSSRF partnership. At the moment he is now learning the ins-and-outs of the R4H culture and is expected to be fully trained by the end of November. He will be leading project implementation and system construction by December, working directly with village residents to expand the R4H program. We are very excited to have him on board!

Under Jibin’s management, this spring’s dry season will see our most extensive construction yet. With funding we received from the Ford Motor Company, we plan to build 20 new rainwater harvesting systems—supplying water for 60 more families.  Most of these systems will be built outside of our pilot community, Achinakom—marking another new development in our program. Given our close established relationship with the people of Achinakom, that area will continue as a test bed for new system designs and business model ideas.

Things are the ground are moving quickly and at R4H we're very excited.None of this, however, would have been possible without the help of those who've supported us along the way--for that we thank you.

Aug 20, 2013

Summer Field Visit (2013)

Last time you heard from us in May we were preparing to send our US team members to the field in pursuit of three main goals: to increase management capacity, to re-assess financials, and to re-engineer tank construction and design. Since then, two of our leaders have spent a month and a half at our partner university in India to accomplish these tasks. Through community meetings and partnership building, potential candidates are being recruited to manage operations in the field. Reviewing records and receipts, comprehensive cash flow statements and third-party auditing are in progress. Finally, engineering research is being carried out to test vegi-fiber technology in our tank designs, a more cost-effective and local alternative to our current methods.

Our efforts to find leadership in the field have relied on networking with established local organizations. Conversations with the Screwpine Society and M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), both local NGO's working in the Kuttanad, have resulted in qualified applicants looking to join our team. These discussions have also helped us envision a management  model. With this in mind, R4H is beginning to take shape as an organization, growing from the project phase to larger-scale implementation. Establishing a dedicated field team will also ensure that the work being done to revise financials and maintain transparency is continued in the absence of our US members.This is one of our highest priorities as we endeavor to maintain a high level of accountability with donations and new funds.

Research continues on tank design, this time beginning phase two of testing on the field. If successful, usage of this new material could  pioneer an environmentally-minded solution to reducing construction costs.

Interactions with beneficiaries suggest that they remain satisfied with the R4H program. Field visits also reveal a high demand for rainwater harvesting, not just from R4H but from organizations similar to our own. We hope to tap into this need in the future, after internal organization has been established and expansion begins.

Water quality testing has also been conducted on all existing tanks, reaffirming that our water is the healthier  alternative to all other tested sources.

As our team members near the end of their summer visit, we expect contingency in all actions that have been taken. R4H forges forward on the path to growth, and we foresee  the new connections that have been made this summer will help strengthen community involvement, demand, and impact.

To read more about our summer experiences, please visit our Blog (linked below)!

 

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