Ashoka Honors the Work of Leading Social Entrepreneurs Addressing Water Issues Worldwide
To commemorate World Water Day 2009, Ashoka highlights clean drinking water and sanitation as some of the top global issues demanding systemic action. For the past 27 years, Ashoka has supported the world's leading social entrepreneurs and their innovative solutions to issues of water worldwide. In recognition of water’s value and central place in human lives, Ashoka takes this opportunity to raise awareness and honor those Fellows who are improving the health and welfare of citizens worldwide, as well as the health of our planet, through tackling critical issues surrounding water and sanitation.
Michal Kravcik, Slovakia
An internationally respected hydrologist, Michal realized that the official Slovak water management policy—advocating for the development of large dams— was no longer working. Instead, Michal developed the Blue Alternative water management approach, which utilizes many small catchments to absorb and store water. The centerpiece of Michal's alternative policy is the revitalization in the use of existing landscape to store and absorb water, the creation of wetlands and ponds to slow runoff, and the establishment of supportive agricultural and forest-management practices. Michal is demonstrating that locally managed water resources will provide far more cost-effective, efficient, and environmentally safe solutions to Slovakia's water management problems than mega-projects such as large dams and diversions.
V.S. Chary, IndiaV.S. Chary is improving the delivery of water and sanitation services in India, where an estimated 200 million people do not have access to adequate water supply. Disappointed by the Indian government’s knowledge gap surrounding the water industry, V.S. Chary targets his efforts towards municipal reform, breaking down misconceptions and resistance to technical improvements on water delivery. Through technical, engineering and management improvements and controls, V.S. Chary has developed a system to deliver water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at a fraction of the previous cost to the government. A critical aspect of V.S. Chary’s model addresses bureaucratic red tape and political inactivity by facilitating the active participation of senior officials and administrators.
Choitresh Kumar Ganguly (“Bablu”), India
Anantapur district is one of the most arid districts in Southern India, receiving only 522mm of rainfall each year. Because of its annual likelihood of drought, only 15% of its cultivable land is irrigated – not enough for its 4 million people trying to get out of debt. Ganguly realized he could engage community members to simultaneously stimulate economic growth as well as revive the dry and degraded land. Through his Timbaktu Collective, Ganguly is using simple, natural water preservation techniques to improve productivity of land and improve livelihoods. An ecosystem that once faced desertification is now being restored thanks to Ganguly’s efforts.
Marta Echavarria, ColombiaSenior Fellow
As the cleanliness and abundance of the world’s water is threatened by agriculture, urban development, and weak public regulations, Marta discovered a new solution for sustainable watershed management. She has established water markets which assign price tags to the environmental benefits of healthy watersheds, enabling all actors – farmers, environmentalists, water companies, electric companies, and governments – to better understand the value of water. Marta’s multi-tiered strategy forges “uncomfortable alliances” between public and private groups, establishes private funds for watershed management initiatives, and coordinates watershed conservation plans between upstream and downstream users. Piloted in Colombia, Marta’s model continues to spread and have success in communities throughout Latin America.
Ako Amadi, NigeriaSenior Fellow
Ako's idea begins with the conviction that an adequate water supply is fundamental to any country's development. Ako is convinced that the acute water shortages which plague poor communities during Nigeria's dry season can be eliminated by harvesting water during the wet season for use during the dry period . Through an innovative water collection and storage tank system, Ako designs and implements sustainable and economical conservation initiatives to do just this. He is revolutionizing the rural water supply system by developing a cost-effective and simple rainwater harvesting system for use in poor rural and semi-urban communities.Profile ►
Oscar Rivas, Paraguay
In Paraguay, huge dams have had disastrous consequences on the watershed communities that surround the dam. Oscar has reframed the debate over water conservation with the belief that a healthy watershed is determined not only by the quality of its water, but also by the health of its surrounding human and ecological communities. Oscar has created a participatory process for local management of environmental resources by disseminating management tools and pushing for citizen participation in larger decision-making about these resources. He has led successful large-scale citizen opposition to dam construction. Oscar’s organization, Sobrevivencia, has become a reference in Paraguay and throughout South America for its effective community approach to freshwater management.Profile ►
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