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, reliable, and accessible 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. Our ultimate vision is to
May 21, 2014

New Developments & Announcements

Dear donors and supporters,

Thanks for following our story. We have exciting new developments we want to share with you since you last heard from us. Read on to find out about an improvement in our model, our new partners, and our summer plans! 

Pivoting Our Model

Over the past year, R4H has sought to scale the program in Kerala, India. However, we have faced challenges in developing the organizational structure best suited for implementing our innovative water-vending model. For some months, we have collaborated on a MOU with a local, NGO (M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation) focused on rural development that will support the R4H organization in scaling and contribute to a joint regional water-health profile and educational program. Throughout conversations with the community and partnership negotiations, we have developed a new idea that will pivot our current model into an improved, streamlined program.

Through this new model, R4H will reinvent the way charity defines sustainable impact. To ensure that we retain our key innovations, we have dissected the original model down to its building blocks. With MSSRF’s administrative support, R4H will function as a seed-financing agent, which will essentially invest up-front capital, to seed-fund the construction of rainwater harvesting tanks for independently managed grassroots village projects. Additionally, R4H will engage the community by hiring employees from beneficiary villages to maintain tank networks and run the vending model for long-term impact. Intertwined, these two aspects encourage community ownership and ensure a tank network’s financial self-sustainability.

The creation of separate, community-run Societies will give direct ownership to the beneficiaries, implementing an incentive structure that promotes the effective management, construction, and revenue collection of tanks. As a seed-funder and consultant, R4H will focus on its primary role by advancing its original goal through its core: the community. Re-envisioning these components, we have taken our model one-step further by separating our organization’s critical activities to not only to retain the benefits, but also to amplify them. Overall, the new model not only solves the current challenges facing R4H, but also improves on the organization’s ultimate mission.

Summer Trajectory

We are excited to announce that with support from Brown University, the R4H leadership (Sam Lee ’15, Dani Flores ’15) will be traveling to Kerala as Brown India Initiative Fellows! Through the program, our team will have the opportunity to develop our new strategy on the ground, gather more first-hand community testimonials, and deliver a presentation to the Brown community on our progress.More specifically, we plan to 1) improve the internal structure of R4H 2) formalize our brand and 3) establish the first independent Society for immediate construction!

Currently, R4H has one hired employee, Jibin Thomas, acting as Program Manager in India. Jibin takes charge of expanding our partnerships in Kerala and directly communicating with the community. This summer, our team will continue these activities jointly and standardize the administration of R4H. A strategic work-plan will be developed for the remainder of the year to improve the international management of R4H. Additionally, we will plan for the hiring of new staff and budget for their operations. We believe this will strengthen our internal operations and make our scaling strategy a success.

As we grow within the community, the R4H brand becomes increasingly important. To improve our visibility and our credibility, we will create a uniform process and marketing materials to present to the community beneficiaries. This will include logo design, formatted documents, and standard procedures for the construction and management of new tanks.

Finally, and most importantly, we will be hard at work to set up our very first Society in Kerala. This will be the first step to pilot our new model in the community and learn from the community that runs it. It will also allow us to begin construction as soon as possible, to expand our tank network and finally get our scaling strategy rolling.

Thanks!

A big thanks to all of YOU, for donating and supporting us through our journey to provide clean water to villagers in Kerala. We hope you enjoy our updates and continue to follow us as we send you new information from our exciting summer activities!

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.

donate now:

Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $10
    give
  • $25
    give
  • $50
    give
  • $100
    give
  • $300
    give
  • $800
    give
  • $10
    each month
    give
  • $25
    each month
    give
  • $50
    each month
    give
  • $100
    each month
    give
  • $300
    each month
    give
  • $800
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?