The shortage of clean water in many parts of the world is a critical problem. According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. As a direct consequence 1.6 million people die every year from diarrheal diseases (including cholera) attributable to lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and 90% of these are children under 5, mostly in developing countries.
Aakash Ganga, or River from the Sky, is a sustainable system that channels rooftop rainwater from every house in a village through gutters, and then pipes it to a network of multitier, underground reservoirs. Currently implemented in six drought-prone villages in the Churu District of Rajasthan, the system captures enough rainwater to meet the drinking needs of an entire village for 12 months.
Aakash Ganga is the brainchild of social entrepreneur and Sustainable Innovations president BP Agrawal, who it just won this year's Energy Globe World Award. and also the USD 100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability earlier this year. The system currently supplies some 10,000 people with fresh water, and the Government of Rajasthan has signed a letter of intent to implement Aakash Ganga in 50 villages to serve another 125,000 people. A100-village plan is being evaluated for implementation as a public-private-community partnership or social enterprise by 2011 or 2012. A video demonstrates the system in action.