All they wanted was water. And it completely revolutionised their lives!
"When ACF began working in the deserts of Rajasthan, they called the community together, to better understand their needs. It was a typical kind of meeting for a rural community - men sat at the front, women at the back. Men did the talking, women sat and listened. But when asked "Tell us what you need?" the women jumped to their feet. "We want nothing, just bring us water!"
Now the truth of the matter was, these women were facing many issues - health, educating their kids, lack of money. But with the water situation so dire, water was all they cared about. And one couldn't blame them. They walked up to 8 Kms a day to fetch it. They had no time for anything - even their children had to drop out of school to help.
And so ACF got to work, focussing on one thing - that every woman should have access to drinking water within 200 meters. Rooftop rainwater harvesting systems were constructed, ponds desilted and community water tanks constructed. A well thought distribution system was developed next so that every household would get an equitable supply of water.
Over the course of the next 10 years, the situation slowly turned around. Water became accessible. Abundant. And no longer plagued the lives and minds of women. In fact, in 2015 a study showed 5 times social return on investment for the water program in Rabriyawas - external validation that a water revolution has in fact taken place.
ACF's drinking water program impacts 24,000 women in Rajasthan. Today 1000 women are into income generation and business. SHG participation is up 50%. Women employment has increased. And 100% of girls attend school." - Pearl Tiwari, Director & CEO, Ambuja Cement Foundation