In Savda Ghevra, in New Delhi, India, solar powered automatic water dispensers have been installed three years ago, as a result, diseases transmitted by contaminated water have decreased.
"The water is cheap, reliable and fresh," said Saida, who lives with her three children near a water dispenser.
Every day, Saida buys about 15 liters of fully drinkable water for about six cents a liter with a rechargeable card. It is convenient and cheap, compared to bottled water that costs 30 cents in India.
Sarvajal Piramal is not the only organization that installed automatic water dispensers, which are powered by solar energy, in New Delhi. The initiative is part of a plan to use this source of energy to bring the vital liquid to the 1.3 billion inhabitants, not only for drinking, but also for agriculture.
"It is the kind of decentralized neighborhood solutions that the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) is interested in," explained the deputy director of the Netherlands-based organization, Peter Vos, in dialogue with IPS.
"But solutions of this type may not be ideal in all situations, because they are networks that require a lot of maintenance and can be expensive," he explained.
The GGGI is interested in promoting policies that encourage efficient use of limited water resources, at a reasonable cost.
"We achieved this by linking up with key ministries concerned with renewable energy, rural development and water and sanitation," Vos said.
Currently, the GGGI has a budget of $ 1.37 million to share knowledge, transfer green technologies and build capacities to meet global commitments related to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
"Facilitating the flow of funds and local and international investments for the climate would be a key contribution to support the implementation of the NDCs," said Vos.
International Solar Alliance
The International Solar Alliance, created by India to facilitate cooperation between sunny countries, offers the GGGI an opportunity to disseminate good practices in renewable energy among the 18 countries of the institute and seven allies; India and China are allies and potential members.
As a predominantly agricultural country, with the largest acreage in the world irrigated by some 26 million water pumps running on diesel or electricity, the GGGI is very interested in India's plans to start using solar energy for irrigation.
Electric pumps are unreliable and diesel is expensive. To keep them going, India spends about $ 6 million a year on subsidies, which carry their own distortions, such as farmers tend to waste electricity and water because they are subsidized, Vos explained.
Under the National Solar Mission program, farmers receive subsidies for solar water pump systems.
An initiative to offer subsidies through credits invites local institutions in the country to offer loans to reduce the burden for the state of subsidies, in addition to making it convenient for farmers.
According to a GGGI study, released in 2017, “the distribution models in contexts” used in the solar pump program achieved several notable achievements in terms of economic and social benefits, reduced emissions, less dependence on subsidies, greater agricultural production , new business development, job creation and better income in rural areas.
The Indian models offer replicable strategies to support solar pump systems for irrigation in other countries where the GGGI has a presence, Vos said.
In fact, the Indian government plans to export solar pump systems and knowledge to countries interested in green alternatives for irrigation.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), irrigation becomes an increasingly important part of global agricultural production, consuming around 70 percent of freshwater resources.
But using solar pump systems can quadruple performance and can be key to meeting national goals such as achieving food security.
In the last 25 years, the Ministry of New Renewable Energies, a partner of the GGGI, developed specialized programs to ensure safe drinking water and good irrigation systems using solar energy, of which there are currently some 15,000 units in operation.
Progress was not entirely easy and, for now, the market for solar pumps remains relatively small due to high start-up capital costs and a lack of awareness by farmers of its need, as well as by consumers of water from dispensers. .
A study of the Savda Ghevra settlement revealed that it took 18 months for the first dispenser to be installed in Piramal Sarvajal. And only 37 percent of residents used it as their primary or secondary source of drinking water.
The study also concluded that the dispensers exceed the operating cost and generate profits for Piramal Sarvajal, and that they could reach an older population with support from the government or other institutions, especially in rural areas.
Proceeds go to pay wages and maintain machines.
According to official data, presented in parliament in 2017, of the 167.8 million households in rural areas of India, only 2.9 million, or 16 percent, have access to drinking water sources.
The GGGI, with its considerable experience and expertise, is well positioned to collaborate, Vos stressed.
Translation: Veronica Firme
By Ranjit Devraj