Just off the plane, Jon, FRANK Water's Programmes Manager updates us on his recent visit to meet some of the communities & partners that we work with.
"I’ve just returned from visiting our India programme and, whilst there’s too much to tell you about everything, here’s a few of my overarching impressions.
Impact – we have helped people change their lives.
Since 2005, FRANK Water has worked with over 300,000 people to get clean, safe water into their communities. It never fails to hit me what a massive difference clean water, at your door, can do.
This latest visit was no exception. Dosai Korra made a lasting impression when she talked about spending her first 75 years collecting water from a river bed that was contaminated by cattle and washing. The tap you can see is 10 yards from her house. The change is unbelievable and the warm handshake unforgettable.
Working with marginalised and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) is the right strategy.
There are huge numbers of people living in poverty in the world and within that, great numbers of people with no access to water or sanitation. So where does FRANK Water fit in? Well, the UN itself gave us a good lead in suggesting two things:
1. There are as many people living in poverty in India as in sub-Saharan Africa and more of them have no access to sanitation and poor access to water.
2. The world has been helping the ‘low hanging fruit’ and now needs to concentrate on the hardest to reach, most marginalised people.
So, since 2013, FRANK Water has worked almost exclusively with Scheduled Tribe (ST) and PVTGs in remote or marginalised parts of India. We work with PVTGs from the forests of Chhattisgarh to the mountains of Andhra Pradesh and, having recently returned from these areas, it's clear that they need our help the most.
Advocacy to the government – making the money work harder
FRANK Water is the ‘small charity with a big impact’. But what does that actually mean at a community level in India? Well, in one way we make a huge impact on the lives of those we work with. But for me, it means making our relatively small amount of funding work as hard as it can – and that means advocacy.
Advocacy to local, state and national governments can change policies and therefore people’s access to rights, funding and decision makers. It makes our money work by giving examples of what can be done and then asking the government to scale up our work.
On my latest visit, I asked our local partner Samerth about this ‘leveraging’ and they gave me an amazing answer. With the £50,000 we have funded them over the last three years, communities have accessed over £600,000 of government-funded work! In this way, FRANK Water can make a much bigger impact that its size would suggest.
Communities doing it for themselves – the leap of faith
Lastly, the message I always give when asked to talk to community groups as a whole is “You made this happen. You made the decision to work with us and you have done the hardest yards.”
These aren't just words, they're the truth. For us to work with a community, the majority of the work on planning, infrastructure and ongoing maintenance is up to them. But more than that, it's the change in mindset at a community level that's the key – the leap of faith to say “we can do this for ourselves”.