Arghyam’s core work is in the realm of two programmes in rural and urban India – groundwater management and sanitation. We are a grant making organisation that supports on-field projects, aids knowledge sharing initiatives, research and advocacy and helps create new networks around these two programmes. Arghyam works through a diverse range of partners – NGOs, academic/ research institutions, networks, and governments.
To ensure effectiveness of its work on groundwater and sanitation, Arghyam supports on field work across the following focus areas:
As a knowledge sharing initiative, Arghyam launched the India Water Portal (IWP), an open and inclusive web-based platform that connects water sector practitioners and the public. The portal’s depth and richness is maintained by practitioners and contributors from the many fields connected with water. The portal, a vital public resource, is flourishing with wide, growing and diverse participation from all parts of India.
The IWP was launched with encouragement from the National Knowledge Commission of the Government of India in January 2007.
Research and Advocacy
Research and advocacy that inspires positive actions is central to our work. Arghyam funds research, mainly in water management technique or technology, almost always with strong sustainability and low-cost aspects.
Research areas are identified in close consultation with organisations and groups supported by Arghyam. These are meant to respond to needs of the sector and to reflect accumulated field knowledge. Arghyam supports research in EcoSan, appropriate waste-water treatment, and human waste reuse. Such research is particularly relevant to the problem of untreated sewage water, a significant problem in cities and rural areas for which mainstream solutions have disadvantages that prevent their widespread uptake.
ASHWAS (A Survey of Household Water and Sanitation) was a participatory survey conducted by Arghyam and supported by partner NGOs to determine the status of domestic water and sanitation in rural Karnataka from a citizen’s perspective. The survey covered 17,200 households in 172 Gram Panchayats over 28 districts of the Karnataka during 2008-09.
Click here to know more about the survey.
Arghyam’s advocacy efforts are based on strong ties with grassroots level partners, both rural and urban, who have accumulated a large body of valuable work and evidence. The feedback given by and experiences of partners lends a strong voice to Arghyam and allows it to provide evidence based policy inputs to the government at various levels. Arghyam has regularly responded to requests from government departments and organisations to provide inputs on different policy aspects of water and sanitation.
Our advocacy efforts have notably included:
Planning Commission consultations: In late 2010, Arghyam was requested by the Planning Commission, Government of India, to collate civil society inputs on drinking water and sanitation for the approach paper to the Twelfth Five Year Plan. A series of regional consultations followed by national consultations culminated in formal documents that were submitted to the Planning Commission as joint input from the large number of the organisations and individuals that participated in the process.
Click here to read the report.
Publication on Sustainable Sanitation: A consultation on sustainable sanitation was organised in 2009 at the behest of the Planning Commission. The discussions about the steps and processes that are part of a successful sanitation intervention were documented and published as ‘Step By Step – Achieving Sustainable Sanitation’ by Arghyam.
Click here for the publication.
Arghyam’s Small Grants programme is designed as a decentralised grant that reaches out to innovative organisations and individuals working in the water and sanitation sector.
Arghyam recognises that immediate needs and campaigns – such as disaster management efforts, water and sanitation events like water film festivals, Water Hackathons etc. require support, and this is provided for through discretionary funding.
The Programme Approach
As a new entrant in the water sector, Arghyam’s initiatives in the initial years of operations were exploratory, with the focus being on learning and understanding the sector. We delved into a wide range of areas and activities. This included rural and urban; services such as grant provisioning, capacity building, research, knowledge management, etc. Within a short period of time, we got into multiple roles – donor, partner, researcher, implementer and advocate, and different ways of working evolved.
Inside Arghyam, we felt it was time to consolidate the lessons of our last six years and perhaps focus more strongly on a few areas. In 2012 we conceptualised the programmatic approach that will bring synergy to our different efforts and help close loops wherever possible. The two programmes that we will focus on are groundwater and sanitation. The programmatic approach will involve strategic funding leading to a reflective and collaborative process of addressing issues of interest and specific problems. This approach will help us deepen our impact and progress more rapidly towards our goal of increasing the number of people, especially the poor and vulnerable, who have access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
While shifting to a programmatic approach, Arghyam will also continue with its non-programmatic funding. The criteria that carry more weight here are mainly geographic and socio-economic with a special focus on under-served populations in regions (states or districts) that have low human development indices (HDI).