In 1999, Nestlé India carried out a pilot survey in village communities in Moga, where one of our main factories is based. The study highlighted a lack of clean drinking water as the key concern for the community. Many village schools were only equipped with hand pumps which provided poor quality of drinking water to their students.
To help improve access to safe drinking water, Nestlé constructs clean drinking water facilities in schools around all of its factories to benefit the surrounding communities. Prior to constructing a drinking water facility in a particular school, we assess the number of students, population of the surrounding community, their proximity to a water source, and the school/community’s financial capabilities. This assessment is done in order to ensure that the project benefits a sizeable number of people who do not have access to alternate drinking water sources and who cannot afford to construct such facilities themselves.
Based on the assessment, we help drill water wells and construct storage tanks, enabling access to clean drinking water for children in village schools around our factories. The sourced water is stored in hygienic tanks enclosed in a specially designed facility to preserve the quality of the water. We involve the school and surrounding community through joint ownership of the water tanks, which helps to ensure better upkeep and maintenance of the tanks. From the very first project setup in 1999, village communities have been encouraged to contribute voluntarily to these projects. Villagers take pride in the project and their ownership of it, making this ‘joint ownership’ a success.
Students are encouraged to form ‘Water Committees’ for the maintenance and upkeep of the tanks. However, water samples are tested periodically for potability in Nestlé laboratories.
“Earlier students used to fall sick frequently and there was a lot of absenteeism from school, but now with availability of clean drinking water the health of children has improved and this has improved attendance in the school.”
Mr. Gurbaksh Singh, Headmaster, Government High School, Village Aaliwal
Nestlé India initiated partnership with the NGO Sarvajal, to set up purification systems including UV and RO facilities in the existing projects at various locations to check quality issues. These units will be monitored on a real time basis and provide data for water quality (TDS) and quantity by a remote sensing system. Sarvajal will be responsible for installation of units, maintenance and water quality reporting (basis water quality norms set by Nestlé) for these systems.
For this, Nestlé, has already identified 11 schools near our Samalkha factory and 25 schools in rural areas in Moga, District – Moga, Punjab. The project will take off in February 2016 in Samalkha and in March 2016 in Moga.
Till date, Nestlé India has over 255 water projects across the country, benefitting over 109,787 students in village communities.