A lack of infrastructure in rural communities means that villages and towns are often left without clean drinking water. For low-income households this means drinking water that will potentially make them ill, leading to medical bills or a loss of income. Sarvajal is tackling this issue head-on in rural communities in India. They began by offering clean water through locally-owned franchises in rural communities at the lowest price point possible. When they found they couldn’t sufficiently reach smaller, remote communities, they developed a vending machine that distributes water with a swipe of a smartcard. Local franchise-owners are alerted when water levels are low and refill water points in their region.
Sarvajal has found an innovate technique for delivering clean drinking water to remote communities that bypasses costly infrastructure investments and avoids selling disposable plastic bottles. By developing a franchise network, Sarvajal promotes economic development within rural communities while promoting a health community. The company claims that their low-investment business model is profitable and popular in local communities.
The high level of responsibility in local franchises is an area of concern when considering quality control mechanisms. Unless Sarvajal has taken careful precautions, who is to say that a franchisee may dip into the public water supply to offset the costs of filtering all the water for remote, isolated communities? That being said, such an act would undoubted be perceived as criminal, attributable to only the most heinous (or desperate) individual.