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For IT Support please contact:
Arvind Nagwani ― +91-9811-862-456
Arvind Deshmukh ― +91-9821-169-663
Deepak Tokas ― +91-9953-533-631

For IT Support please contact:
Arvind Nagwani ― +91-9811-862-456
Arvind Deshmukh ― +91-9821-169-663
Deepak Tokas ― +91-9953-533-631

Recent Webinars

Virtual Roundtable on Private Sector Investment

Roundtable Proceedings

Executive Summary

A Virtual Roundtable titled ‘Private Sector Engagement for Scale-up of SWEs’ was organized on 19th June 2020 under the aegis of Project SEWAH – Sustainable Enterprises for Water and Health, which is a joint initiative of Safe Water Network India and USAID. The aim of the roundtable discussion was to discuss and debate, and generate ideas to attract private sector investment for Small Water Enterprises (SWEs) in the country as complementary safe drinking water solution to piped water thus contribute towards UN SDG 6.1.

The virtual event had participation from all three levels of government – The Central Government, the State Administration, and the Urban Local Bodies who discussed the opportunities and challenges for the SWEs from a government perspective. The other key speakers were Safe Water Implementers, Corporations that promote SWEs through their CSR, Technology Providers, and International Development Agencies. Recognizing that the Small Water Enterprises are cost-effective and customizable drinking water solutions that can synergize a major thrust in the safe drinking water provision specifically at places where the flagship government schemes such as the Jal Jeevan Mission cannot reach and are yet to reach. The participants discussed how public- private partnerships can play a major role in providing safe drinking water to water-stressed or quality affected communities. The Small Water Enterprises have been set up as public-private partnerships, using a mix of funding that heavily leaned on the 2% corporate CSR grants. However, with declining CSR funds, as most of the CSR funds going towards COVID care, it has become imperative for the SWEs to explore new investment avenues.

The keynote address for the session was delivered by Mr. Devender Singh, IAS, and Additional Chief Secretary of Government of Haryana, Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) Haryana. He outlaid the State Government’s water delivery approach that has a primary focus on Jal Jeevan Mission and also that the State of Haryana has a Water ATM policy where sustainability is built on water sale revenue and the advertising through billboards. The Water ATMs are promoted in cities and towns for the mobile customer and also for the people in low-income colonies. Although the towns are small, in aggregate they nevertheless account for a substantial proportion of the overall urban population Mr. Tukaram Mundhe, IAS, Municipal Commissioner, Nagpur Municipal Corporation gave a special guest address in the session. He elaborated that Nagpur City is demonstrating a successful PPP in piped water, where the services are privatized and the water rights remain with the government. The biggest problem is metering and collecting user charges from the consumer. The consumers are unwilling to pay meagre monthly amount of Rs. 50-70. We express our heartfelt gratitude to both our distinguished guests from the government for their thoughts and suggestions for the private sector role and participation in small water enterprises. We also thank Mr. Anand Rudra, Senior Advisor – WASH, USAID India for co-hosting the session and providing us with platforms and resources to voice the concerns of the sector to the relevant authorities for scale-up. Ms. Jhalak Jain from Honeywell Hometown Solutions, who have invested deeply in small water enterprises for public health and social development through their CSR, said that for the private sector support the essential services and for high visibility to the program, measurable outputs and ability to recover the local operating cost.

The other panelists on the roundtable included Dr. Parag Agarwal, Founder, and CEO, JanaJal, a dedicated small water services company that has benefited over 20 million people to date said that the private sector brings speed, talent, and efficiencies to the program. The government should consider them as partners and provide an enabling environment to perform and recover costs. Mr. Dennis Abraham, Managing Director, Josab Water Solutions, a technology solution as well as implementing organization said that their low-cost technology purifies water ecologically and sustainably. And, Ms. Maya Acharya, Senior Policy Advisor, Embassy of Netherlands who collaborates with the Government of India on infrastructure projects said that there is a huge need in the country for safe drinking water and the private sector is keen to participate. It can be done through collaboration and enabling environment.

With the diminishing CSR funds and falling revenue generation from user fees at the Water ATMs due to the COVID pandemic, the SWEs cannot rely upon the earlier models of operations. Financial sustainability has become the most important determinant for the survival and scale-up of SWEs as water is priced within certain socio-economic parameters to reach all. Lack of opportunities for the small water enterprises to generate operating revenues let alone make a marginal profit from the water sales also keeps the private investors at bay.

The Small Water Enterprises provides a window of investment to the private sector, but this option has its own set of challenges. The stakes for the private sector to invest in the SWEs remain very high. The challenges range from working through delayed infrastructure delivery, complex institutional frameworks with multiple regulatory authorities, politicians offering free water, leading to lower probabilities of recovering the capital investments, or even the operating costs. Experience suggests that unless major reforms are made at both policy and implementation levels, the path to successful private investments in the SWE sector will not be smooth. There is an increasing need for holistic collaboration with the government in terms of technological, monetary, and resource sharing partnerships. Despite the risks and the challenges, there is a clear potential for the private sector investment in the small water enterprises.

Poonam Sewak of Safe Water Network India summarized that there is a need for forming a National Water ATM Policy and the regulatory framework that governs the SWE sector. Our ask from government is the following: (i) to ease the stringent regulations on water treatment units, promote MSMEs and adopt more business-friendly policies, (ii) suitable water tariffs, (iii) undertake capacity building and expertise in the drinking water sector, (iv) to simplify the institutional framework and create opportunities for public-private partnerships in the drinking water sector, and (v) provide viability gap funding.

The SWEs can make a lasting social and economic impact by improving health, creating jobs, improving vocational skills, and bringing new technologies to bridge the existing gaps in the water supply chain.

We thank our patrons and donors – USAID, Honeywell Hometown Foundation, Pentair Foundation and for their continuous support and guidance.

A Virtual Roundtable titled ‘Private Sector Engagement for Scale-up of SWEs’ was organized on 19th June 2020 under the aegis of Project SEWAH – Sustainable Enterprises for Water and Health, which is a joint initiative of Safe Water Network India and USAID. The aim of the roundtable discussion was to discuss and debate, and generate ideas to attract private sector investment for Small Water Enterprises (SWEs) in the country as complementary safe drinking water solution to piped water thus contribute towards UN SDG 6.1.

The virtual event had participation from all three levels of government – The Central Government, the State Administration, and the Urban Local Bodies who discussed the opportunities and challenges for the SWEs from a government perspective. The other key speakers were Safe Water Implementers, Corporations that promote SWEs through their CSR, Technology Providers, and International Development Agencies. Recognizing that the Small Water Enterprises are cost-effective and customizable drinking water solutions that can synergize a major thrust in the safe drinking water provision specifically at places where the flagship government schemes such as the Jal Jeevan Mission cannot reach and are yet to reach. The participants discussed how public- private partnerships can play a major role in providing safe drinking water to water-stressed or quality affected communities. The Small Water Enterprises have been set up as public-private partnerships, using a mix of funding that heavily leaned on the 2% corporate CSR grants. However, with declining CSR funds, as most of the CSR funds going towards COVID care, it has become imperative for the SWEs to explore new investment avenues.

The keynote address for the session was delivered by Mr. Devender Singh, IAS, and Additional Chief Secretary of Government of Haryana, Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) Haryana. He outlaid the State Government’s water delivery approach that has a primary focus on Jal Jeevan Mission and also that the State of Haryana has a Water ATM policy where sustainability is built on water sale revenue and the advertising through billboards. The Water ATMs are promoted in cities and towns for the mobile customer and also for the people in low-income colonies. Although the towns are small, in aggregate they nevertheless account for a substantial proportion of the overall urban population Mr. Tukaram Mundhe, IAS, Municipal Commissioner, Nagpur Municipal Corporation gave a special guest address in the session. He elaborated that Nagpur City is demonstrating a successful PPP in piped water, where the services are privatized and the water rights remain with the government. The biggest problem is metering and collecting user charges from the consumer. The consumers are unwilling to pay meagre monthly amount of Rs. 50-70. We express our heartfelt gratitude to both our distinguished guests from the government for their thoughts and suggestions for the private sector role and participation in small water enterprises. We also thank Mr. Anand Rudra, Senior Advisor – WASH, USAID India for co-hosting the session and providing us with platforms and resources to voice the concerns of the sector to the relevant authorities for scale-up. Ms. Jhalak Jain from Honeywell Hometown Solutions, who have invested deeply in small water enterprises for public health and social development through their CSR, said that for the private sector support the essential services and for high visibility to the program, measurable outputs and ability to recover the local operating cost.

The other panelists on the roundtable included Dr. Parag Agarwal, Founder, and CEO, JanaJal, a dedicated small water services company that has benefited over 20 million people to date said that the private sector brings speed, talent, and efficiencies to the program. The government should consider them as partners and provide an enabling environment to perform and recover costs. Mr. Dennis Abraham, Managing Director, Josab Water Solutions, a technology solution as well as implementing organization said that their low-cost technology purifies water ecologically and sustainably. And, Ms. Maya Acharya, Senior Policy Advisor, Embassy of Netherlands who collaborates with the Government of India on infrastructure projects said that there is a huge need in the country for safe drinking water and the private sector is keen to participate. It can be done through collaboration and enabling environment.

With the diminishing CSR funds and falling revenue generation from user fees at the Water ATMs due to the COVID pandemic, the SWEs cannot rely upon the earlier models of operations. Financial sustainability has become the most important determinant for the survival and scale-up of SWEs as water is priced within certain socio-economic parameters to reach all. Lack of opportunities for the small water enterprises to generate operating revenues let alone make a marginal profit from the water sales also keeps the private investors at bay.

The Small Water Enterprises provides a window of investment to the private sector, but this option has its own set of challenges. The stakes for the private sector to invest in the SWEs remain very high. The challenges range from working through delayed infrastructure delivery, complex institutional frameworks with multiple regulatory authorities, politicians offering free water, leading to lower probabilities of recovering the capital investments, or even the operating costs. Experience suggests that unless major reforms are made at both policy and implementation levels, the path to successful private investments in the SWE sector will not be smooth. There is an increasing need for holistic collaboration with the government in terms of technological, monetary, and resource sharing partnerships. Despite the risks and the challenges, there is a clear potential for the private sector investment in the small water enterprises.

Poonam Sewak of Safe Water Network India summarized that there is a need for forming a National Water ATM Policy and the regulatory framework that governs the SWE sector. Our ask from government is the following: (i) to ease the stringent regulations on water treatment units, promote MSMEs and adopt more business-friendly policies, (ii) suitable water tariffs, (iii) undertake capacity building and expertise in the drinking water sector, (iv) to simplify the institutional framework and create opportunities for public-private partnerships in the drinking water sector, and (v) provide viability gap funding.

The SWEs can make a lasting social and economic impact by improving health, creating jobs, improving vocational skills, and bringing new technologies to bridge the existing gaps in the water supply chain.

We thank our patrons and donors – USAID, Honeywell Hometown Foundation, Pentair Foundation and for their continuous support and guidance.

A Virtual Roundtable titled ‘Private Sector Engagement for Scale-up of SWEs’ was organized on 19th June 2020 under the aegis of Project SEWAH – Sustainable Enterprises for Water and Health, which is a joint initiative of Safe Water Network India and USAID. The aim of the roundtable discussion was to discuss and debate, and generate ideas to attract private sector investment for Small Water Enterprises (SWEs) in the country as complementary safe drinking water solution to piped water thus contribute towards UN SDG 6.1.

The virtual event had participation from all three levels of government – The Central Government, the State Administration, and the Urban Local Bodies who discussed the opportunities and challenges for the SWEs from a government perspective. The other key speakers were Safe Water Implementers, Corporations that promote SWEs through their CSR, Technology Providers, and International Development Agencies. Recognizing that the Small Water Enterprises are cost-effective and customizable drinking water solutions that can synergize a major thrust in the safe drinking water provision specifically at places where the flagship government schemes such as the Jal Jeevan Mission cannot reach and are yet to reach. The participants discussed how public- private partnerships can play a major role in providing safe drinking water to water-stressed or quality affected communities. The Small Water Enterprises have been set up as public-private partnerships, using a mix of funding that heavily leaned on the 2% corporate CSR grants. However, with declining CSR funds, as most of the CSR funds going towards COVID care, it has become imperative for the SWEs to explore new investment avenues.

The keynote address for the session was delivered by Mr. Devender Singh, IAS, and Additional Chief Secretary of Government of Haryana, Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) Haryana. He outlaid the State Government’s water delivery approach that has a primary focus on Jal Jeevan Mission and also that the State of Haryana has a Water ATM policy where sustainability is built on water sale revenue and the advertising through billboards. The Water ATMs are promoted in cities and towns for the mobile customer and also for the people in low-income colonies. Although the towns are small, in aggregate they nevertheless account for a substantial proportion of the overall urban population Mr. Tukaram Mundhe, IAS, Municipal Commissioner, Nagpur Municipal Corporation gave a special guest address in the session. He elaborated that Nagpur City is demonstrating a successful PPP in piped water, where the services are privatized and the water rights remain with the government. The biggest problem is metering and collecting user charges from the consumer. The consumers are unwilling to pay meagre monthly amount of Rs. 50-70. We express our heartfelt gratitude to both our distinguished guests from the government for their thoughts and suggestions for the private sector role and participation in small water enterprises. We also thank Mr. Anand Rudra, Senior Advisor – WASH, USAID India for co-hosting the session and providing us with platforms and resources to voice the concerns of the sector to the relevant authorities for scale-up. Ms. Jhalak Jain from Honeywell Hometown Solutions, who have invested deeply in small water enterprises for public health and social development through their CSR, said that for the private sector support the essential services and for high visibility to the program, measurable outputs and ability to recover the local operating cost.

The other panelists on the roundtable included Dr. Parag Agarwal, Founder, and CEO, JanaJal, a dedicated small water services company that has benefited over 20 million people to date said that the private sector brings speed, talent, and efficiencies to the program. The government should consider them as partners and provide an enabling environment to perform and recover costs. Mr. Dennis Abraham, Managing Director, Josab Water Solutions, a technology solution as well as implementing organization said that their low-cost technology purifies water ecologically and sustainably. And, Ms. Maya Acharya, Senior Policy Advisor, Embassy of Netherlands who collaborates with the Government of India on infrastructure projects said that there is a huge need in the country for safe drinking water and the private sector is keen to participate. It can be done through collaboration and enabling environment.

With the diminishing CSR funds and falling revenue generation from user fees at the Water ATMs due to the COVID pandemic, the SWEs cannot rely upon the earlier models of operations. Financial sustainability has become the most important determinant for the survival and scale-up of SWEs as water is priced within certain socio-economic parameters to reach all. Lack of opportunities for the small water enterprises to generate operating revenues let alone make a marginal profit from the water sales also keeps the private investors at bay.

The Small Water Enterprises provides a window of investment to the private sector, but this option has its own set of challenges. The stakes for the private sector to invest in the SWEs remain very high. The challenges range from working through delayed infrastructure delivery, complex institutional frameworks with multiple regulatory authorities, politicians offering free water, leading to lower probabilities of recovering the capital investments, or even the operating costs. Experience suggests that unless major reforms are made at both policy and implementation levels, the path to successful private investments in the SWE sector will not be smooth. There is an increasing need for holistic collaboration with the government in terms of technological, monetary, and resource sharing partnerships. Despite the risks and the challenges, there is a clear potential for the private sector investment in the small water enterprises.

Poonam Sewak of Safe Water Network India summarized that there is a need for forming a National Water ATM Policy and the regulatory framework that governs the SWE sector. Our ask from government is the following: (i) to ease the stringent regulations on water treatment units, promote MSMEs and adopt more business-friendly policies, (ii) suitable water tariffs, (iii) undertake capacity building and expertise in the drinking water sector, (iv) to simplify the institutional framework and create opportunities for public-private partnerships in the drinking water sector, and (v) provide viability gap funding.

The SWEs can make a lasting social and economic impact by improving health, creating jobs, improving vocational skills, and bringing new technologies to bridge the existing gaps in the water supply chain.

We thank our patrons and donors – USAID, Honeywell Hometown Foundation, Pentair Foundation and for their continuous support and guidance.

Download the Proceedings

Please download the detailed roundtable proceedings

Previous Webinars

COVID Webinar

Webinar Proceedings

Executive Summary

The Webinar “Small Water Enterprises’ 1 (SWE) Strategy to Adapt During COVID-19” was held on Thursday May 14, 2020 to promote knowledge exchange and discuss scale up strategies among SWE implementers under the aegis of SEWAH – ‘Sustainable Enterprises for Water and Health’, a joint initiative of Safe Water Network India and USAID. The SWE implementers shared the challenges and adaptation strategies to run sustainable operations, retain teams, and continue to serve communities in these unprecedented VUCA times that pandemic COVID-19 has thrust upon mankind. The SWE sector suffered a setback as COVID-19 lockdown hit us at the beginning of the peak summer, during which more than 50% of annual business is transacted by water sale. In addition, the majority of the CSR funds are now being prioritized towards COVID care and rehabilitation. SWE implementers, today like other businesses, need to reinvent to adapt to the current situation. Organizations are strengthening their foundations through agile, high performance lean teams and adaptive strategies for survival during 2020 that offer customer simplicity.

We extend our sincere gratitude to Dr. Ashok Kumar Jain, Adviser NITI Aayog, Government of India (Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Housing and Sustainable Development Goals) for Chairing and summarizing the session. We also sincerely thank Mr. Anand Rudra, Senior Adviser – WASH, USAID India, for addressing the SWE implementers and encouraging them to work cohesively for the scale-up of the sector under the ambit of SWE Alliance, table the concerns of the SWE sector to the NITI Aayog urging for policy reforms. Special thanks to our donors and patrons USAID, Honeywell Hometown Solutions India Foundation and Pentair Foundation for their grant and technology support.

This Beyond the Pipe Webinar had 14 imminent panelists – national SWE implementers who are providing decentralized affordable safe drinking water in rural India for over two decades and have now forayed in the urban cities in the last 6-8 years. Their footprint is present in all the States of India except six northeastern states. The participating SWE organizations included Decentralised Water Systems, Drinkwell Systems, Earth Water Limited, Janajal, MS Scientifics & Aqua Systems, Maithri Aquatech, Naandi Community Water Services, OCEO Water, Rite Water Solutions, Tata Projects, Sarvajal, WaterHealth India, Bala Vikasa and Safe Water Network India. We thank the 125 participants ranging from civil society, academia, technology providers, corporates, and international development organizations for their participation and questions.

The panelists, SWE Implementers highlighted the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on their operations, challenges they faced, strategies they adopted for business continuity, and serving their communities. They willingly agreed to share their best practices.

The strategies adopted by the SWE implementers during the lockdown ranged from keeping their teams informed, connected, and motivated; transparently sharing the changes in operations and services; promoting employee safety, and providing flexible working hours. There was increased communication and support to employees, messaging to their communities and increased donor engagement. Everyone logged into the virtual world where telecommuting and teleworking were the new norm. The leadership undertook risk assessment, developed a revised forecast and the business plans to examine the continuity of operations while building operational resilience. At the field level, the first and foremost task undertaken was to instill safety protocols and precautions for the entire chain, involving SWE entrepreneurs, operators, repair technicians, and the consumers. There was increased IEC activity for personal hygiene, social distancing, frequent hand wash, personal protection, use of masks, gloves, and sanitizers. Disinfection of water treatment plants, dispensing touchpoints were adopted by the majority of the SWE implementers. And a few implementers conducted save water during hand wash campaigns.

Lockdown challenges commonly faced by the SWE implementers included the inability to expand, setting up new plants, reduced consumer footfalls, affected distribution systems, delay in resolving technical issues due to restrictions on people and spares movement, complete loss of revenues from the water treatment plants at cities, schools and railways stations as they were shut down. Some of the SWEs falling in the ‘red zone’ were also completely shut owing to the lockdown restrictions.

Post lockdown strategies include driving cashless digital payment system incorporation, touchless transactions, remote monitoring system installation for visibility of operations, hand wash stations at their Water ATM sites, IEC on personal, community and team safety as prescribed by the government. Ask from the Government: The SWE Implementers seek commercial concessions from the Government on license fees, electricity charges, capital outlay, exemption on GST on the services provided, use of Direct Benefit transfer to provide safe water to the poor.

What lies ahead: SWE sector was barely sustainable during the pre-COVID times and is now under the threat for survival. This crisis has led to water sales revenue loss, increased expenditure in employee safety, setting up hand wash station, frequent disinfection, etc. In addition, the sector requires investment for upgrading the SWE or Water ATMs for automated contactless dispensing, incorporating technology for migration to digital and cashless payment modes, etc. The CSR funding is shrinking.

The SWE sector has to reimagine itself.

The Webinar “Small Water Enterprises’ 1 (SWE) Strategy to Adapt During COVID-19” was held on Thursday May 14, 2020 to promote knowledge exchange and discuss scale up strategies among SWE implementers under the aegis of SEWAH – ‘Sustainable Enterprises for Water and Health’, a joint initiative of Safe Water Network India and USAID. The SWE implementers shared the challenges and adaptation strategies to run sustainable operations, retain teams, and continue to serve communities in these unprecedented VUCA times that pandemic COVID-19 has thrust upon mankind. The SWE sector suffered a setback as COVID-19 lockdown hit us at the beginning of the peak summer, during which more than 50% of annual business is transacted by water sale. In addition, the majority of the CSR funds are now being prioritized towards COVID care and rehabilitation. SWE implementers, today like other businesses, need to reinvent to adapt to the current situation. Organizations are strengthening their foundations through agile, high performance lean teams and adaptive strategies for survival during 2020 that offer customer simplicity.

We extend our sincere gratitude to Dr. Ashok Kumar Jain, Adviser NITI Aayog, Government of India (Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Housing and Sustainable Development Goals) for Chairing and summarizing the session. We also sincerely thank Mr. Anand Rudra, Senior Adviser – WASH, USAID India, for addressing the SWE implementers and encouraging them to work cohesively for the scale-up of the sector under the ambit of SWE Alliance, table the concerns of the SWE sector to the NITI Aayog urging for policy reforms. Special thanks to our donors and patrons USAID, Honeywell Hometown Solutions India Foundation and Pentair Foundation for their grant and technology support.

This Beyond the Pipe Webinar had 14 imminent panelists – national SWE implementers who are providing decentralized affordable safe drinking water in rural India for over two decades and have now forayed in the urban cities in the last 6-8 years. Their footprint is present in all the States of India except six northeastern states. The participating SWE organizations included Decentralised Water Systems, Drinkwell Systems, Earth Water Limited, Janajal, MS Scientifics & Aqua Systems, Maithri Aquatech, Naandi Community Water Services, OCEO Water, Rite Water Solutions, Tata Projects, Sarvajal, WaterHealth India, Bala Vikasa and Safe Water Network India. We thank the 125 participants ranging from civil society, academia, technology providers, corporates, and international development organizations for their participation and questions.

The panelists, SWE Implementers highlighted the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on their operations, challenges they faced, strategies they adopted for business continuity, and serving their communities. They willingly agreed to share their best practices.

The strategies adopted by the SWE implementers during the lockdown ranged from keeping their teams informed, connected, and motivated; transparently sharing the changes in operations and services; promoting employee safety, and providing flexible working hours. There was increased communication and support to employees, messaging to their communities and increased donor engagement. Everyone logged into the virtual world where telecommuting and teleworking were the new norm. The leadership undertook risk assessment, developed a revised forecast and the business plans to examine the continuity of operations while building operational resilience. At the field level, the first and foremost task undertaken was to instill safety protocols and precautions for the entire chain, involving SWE entrepreneurs, operators, repair technicians, and the consumers. There was increased IEC activity for personal hygiene, social distancing, frequent hand wash, personal protection, use of masks, gloves, and sanitizers. Disinfection of water treatment plants, dispensing touchpoints were adopted by the majority of the SWE implementers. And a few implementers conducted save water during hand wash campaigns.

Lockdown challenges commonly faced by the SWE implementers included the inability to expand, setting up new plants, reduced consumer footfalls, affected distribution systems, delay in resolving technical issues due to restrictions on people and spares movement, complete loss of revenues from the water treatment plants at cities, schools and railways stations as they were shut down. Some of the SWEs falling in the ‘red zone’ were also completely shut owing to the lockdown restrictions.

Post lockdown strategies include driving cashless digital payment system incorporation, touchless transactions, remote monitoring system installation for visibility of operations, hand wash stations at their Water ATM sites, IEC on personal, community and team safety as prescribed by the government. Ask from the Government: The SWE Implementers seek commercial concessions from the Government on license fees, electricity charges, capital outlay, exemption on GST on the services provided, use of Direct Benefit transfer to provide safe water to the poor.

What lies ahead: SWE sector was barely sustainable during the pre-COVID times and is now under the threat for survival. This crisis has led to water sales revenue loss, increased expenditure in employee safety, setting up hand wash station, frequent disinfection, etc. In addition, the sector requires investment for upgrading the SWE or Water ATMs for automated contactless dispensing, incorporating technology for migration to digital and cashless payment modes, etc. The CSR funding is shrinking.

The SWE sector has to reimagine itself.

The Webinar “Small Water Enterprises’ 1 (SWE) Strategy to Adapt During COVID-19” was held on Thursday May 14, 2020 to promote knowledge exchange and discuss scale up strategies among SWE implementers under the aegis of SEWAH – ‘Sustainable Enterprises for Water and Health’, a joint initiative of Safe Water Network India and USAID. The SWE implementers shared the challenges and adaptation strategies to run sustainable operations, retain teams, and continue to serve communities in these unprecedented VUCA times that pandemic COVID-19 has thrust upon mankind. The SWE sector suffered a setback as COVID-19 lockdown hit us at the beginning of the peak summer, during which more than 50% of annual business is transacted by water sale. In addition, the majority of the CSR funds are now being prioritized towards COVID care and rehabilitation. SWE implementers, today like other businesses, need to reinvent to adapt to the current situation. Organizations are strengthening their foundations through agile, high performance lean teams and adaptive strategies for survival during 2020 that offer customer simplicity.

We extend our sincere gratitude to Dr. Ashok Kumar Jain, Adviser NITI Aayog, Government of India (Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Housing and Sustainable Development Goals) for Chairing and summarizing the session. We also sincerely thank Mr. Anand Rudra, Senior Adviser – WASH, USAID India, for addressing the SWE implementers and encouraging them to work cohesively for the scale-up of the sector under the ambit of SWE Alliance, table the concerns of the SWE sector to the NITI Aayog urging for policy reforms. Special thanks to our donors and patrons USAID, Honeywell Hometown Solutions India Foundation and Pentair Foundation for their grant and technology support.

This Beyond the Pipe Webinar had 14 imminent panelists – national SWE implementers who are providing decentralized affordable safe drinking water in rural India for over two decades and have now forayed in the urban cities in the last 6-8 years. Their footprint is present in all the States of India except six northeastern states. The participating SWE organizations included Decentralised Water Systems, Drinkwell Systems, Earth Water Limited, Janajal, MS Scientifics & Aqua Systems, Maithri Aquatech, Naandi Community Water Services, OCEO Water, Rite Water Solutions, Tata Projects, Sarvajal, WaterHealth India, Bala Vikasa and Safe Water Network India. We thank the 125 participants ranging from civil society, academia, technology providers, corporates, and international development organizations for their participation and questions.

The panelists, SWE Implementers highlighted the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on their operations, challenges they faced, strategies they adopted for business continuity, and serving their communities. They willingly agreed to share their best practices.

The strategies adopted by the SWE implementers during the lockdown ranged from keeping their teams informed, connected, and motivated; transparently sharing the changes in operations and services; promoting employee safety, and providing flexible working hours. There was increased communication and support to employees, messaging to their communities and increased donor engagement. Everyone logged into the virtual world where telecommuting and teleworking were the new norm. The leadership undertook risk assessment, developed a revised forecast and the business plans to examine the continuity of operations while building operational resilience. At the field level, the first and foremost task undertaken was to instill safety protocols and precautions for the entire chain, involving SWE entrepreneurs, operators, repair technicians, and the consumers. There was increased IEC activity for personal hygiene, social distancing, frequent hand wash, personal protection, use of masks, gloves, and sanitizers. Disinfection of water treatment plants, dispensing touchpoints were adopted by the majority of the SWE implementers. And a few implementers conducted save water during hand wash campaigns.

Lockdown challenges commonly faced by the SWE implementers included the inability to expand, setting up new plants, reduced consumer footfalls, affected distribution systems, delay in resolving technical issues due to restrictions on people and spares movement, complete loss of revenues from the water treatment plants at cities, schools and railways stations as they were shut down. Some of the SWEs falling in the ‘red zone’ were also completely shut owing to the lockdown restrictions.

Post lockdown strategies include driving cashless digital payment system incorporation, touchless transactions, remote monitoring system installation for visibility of operations, hand wash stations at their Water ATM sites, IEC on personal, community and team safety as prescribed by the government. Ask from the Government: The SWE Implementers seek commercial concessions from the Government on license fees, electricity charges, capital outlay, exemption on GST on the services provided, use of Direct Benefit transfer to provide safe water to the poor.

What lies ahead: SWE sector was barely sustainable during the pre-COVID times and is now under the threat for survival. This crisis has led to water sales revenue loss, increased expenditure in employee safety, setting up hand wash station, frequent disinfection, etc. In addition, the sector requires investment for upgrading the SWE or Water ATMs for automated contactless dispensing, incorporating technology for migration to digital and cashless payment modes, etc. The CSR funding is shrinking.

The SWE sector has to reimagine itself.

Download the Proceedings

Please download the detailed webinar proceedings

Register for the Webinar

Link to attend the Webinar

For IT Support please contact:
Arvind Nagwani ― +91-9811-862-456
Arvind Deshmukh ― +91-9821-169-663
Deepak Tokas ― +91-9953-533-631