Safe water: Essential for every family’s life

October 6, 2011  |  By Mike Cohea |  401-863-7511
It's more than distance that separates slums in India from historic College Hill in Rhode Island. A determined group of students from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design has found a way past language, culture, distance, poverty, politics, economics and all the rest to focus productively on a single issue: safe water.

Education creates demandUsing social networks for educational outreach, WaterWalla talks about safe water and how to use simple, effective, available technologies to secure it. Local entrepreneurs then meet the market demand for safe-water technology. Credit: Yvonnic Coomans de BrachéneEducation creates demand
Using social networks for educational outreach, WaterWalla talks about safe water and how to use simple, effective, available technologies to secure it. Local entrepreneurs then meet the market demand for safe-water technology. Credit: Yvonnic Coomans de Brachéne
A social business, not a charity, WaterWalla creates demand for safe water by educating slum residents through social networks. Local entrepreneurs, recruited and mentored by WaterWalla, meet that rising demand by opening shops in the slums and selling affordable, effective technologies to make safe drinking water.

In the summer of 2011, WaterWalla opened a flagship store in Dharavi, the Mumbai slum made famous by the movie Slumdog Millionaire. More than a brick and mortar location, the store’s blue WaterWalla logo points toward healthier communities and better, fuller lives.

It is a virtuous cycle of demand and supply that WaterWalla is creating — an innovative and highly motivated effort born of a simple disturbing fact: More than 700 children will die of easily preventable waterborne diseases in the time it takes to write a final exam on College Hill.