Safe Water Network India hosted its seventh Beyond the Pipe Forum in New Delhi on October 31, 2018. The Forum featured the launch of a Small Water Enterprise Alliance, with approximately 25 organizations signing up to be members. The Alliance will facilitate joint initiatives to establish industry standards, accelerate sector funding, and advance regulatory reform.
In addition, the event saw the release of Safe Water Network’s 2018 India Sector Review, entitled Small Water Enterprises to Mitigate the Drinking Water Challenge, which charts the roadmap to scaling up small water enterprises (SWEs) in India. SWEs have largely been accepted by the Indian government in recent years as a solution that can help to address the gap in drinking water supply. This growing acceptance is reflected by a shift in government policies and the proliferation of SWEs, where they are supplementing the safe drinking water needs of communities in more than 17 states throughout India. The report recommends specific policy reforms to create an enabling environment for scale.
Ravindra Sewak, Safe Water Network’s India Country Director, addressed the audience, stating that “There is an opportunity for SWEs to play a far greater role in mitigating the country’s current drinking water challenge. The sector needs institutional, operational and financial level policy reforms to create a conducive enabling environment for scale. Sewak went on to contend that SWEs are “recognized for their advantages of providing reliable, safe and affordable drinking water on a 24/7 basis, and improving public health as well as generating livelihoods. They have the potential to provide access to about 370 million people beyond the pipe in rural and urban communities through 22,000 SWEs at an investment of USD 6 billion (44,000 crore).”
A representative from the Government of India maintained that “Access to affordable, safe drinking water is a critical requirement for public health. The Government is committed to providing safe piped water for all. Small water enterprises complement the Government’s efforts to provide high-quality treated water, in areas where it is difficult for piped water to reach. My complements on the India Sector Review which calls for action and provides specific recommendations to develop meaningful PPPs for sustainable safe water access.”