Using a Systems Design Model to Bring Clean Water to Rural and Slum Communities in India

Sarah Tranum

Over 783 million people lack access to clean water, and of these, 3.5 million die every year as a result of inadequate water supply, most often because of poor sanitation and hygiene (UN Water, 2013). While there are thousands of solutions that have been developed for cleaning water in various parts of the world, from high tech chemical processes to low-tech filters, the problem of unsafe drinking water still persists. This paper argues that one of the reasons for the disconnect between the problem and proposed solutions is a lack of systems design in developing robust models for distribution and adoption. Using a Canadian-led research project based in South Goa, India, called the CleanCube Project as a case study, this paper explores how localized systems thinking can lead to clean water solutions by leveraging income generation and women’s empowerment activities. As part of this design research project, these strategies are being employed in communities where the need for clean water and improved sanitation goes hand in hand with a lack of economic and social enfranchisement opportunities, especially among women.

Posted Sep-2016

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