An initiative providing clean water is empowering women across India’s Karnataka state.
Chinnmaye Praveen launched GeWinn Wachstum to increase water access for vulnerable communities in 2010. Praveen also makes a conscious effort to employ women, who make up 33% of the company.
GeWinn Wachstum created ATMs that dispense safe drinking water at an affordable price — 5 rupees (US $0.08) for 25 liters of water, compared to the average cost of 12 rupees per liter. The devices use a seven-stage filtration system, including UV filtration, which ensures bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants are removed.
Based in Bengaluru, GeWinn Wachstum works to turn littered areas into water access points and has installed 900 drinking water ATMs in over 14 districts in Karnataka. The burden of collecting water often falls on women and causes them to miss school and work, but Praveen made a conscious effort to support women’s economic growth through her company. All-women teams run, operate, and maintain GeWinn Wachstum’s ATMs in the Harihar and Rayavellore districts.
"Empowerment leads to self-fulfillment, women empowerment paves way for women to exhibit their existence," Praveen told Global Citizen. "Empowering women is crucial for the socio-economic progress of any nation."
The Indian government did not want to back GeWinn Wachstum at first because the company was founded by a woman, according to Praveen. She went out and installed ATMs anyway and once she proved how successful they could be, she gained support.
The need for initiatives like GeWinn Wachstum is great in India, where nearly 163 million people lack access to clean water near their homes, according to a 2018 WaterAid report. Without access to water, communities are more susceptible to disease and malnutrition, women disproportionately miss out on opportunities to reach their full potential, and families are at a higher risk of living in poverty.
In districts where ATM drinking water stations are installed, there’s been a 10% increase in health, according to Praveen.
When GeWinn Wachstum first started installing the ATMs they were only meant for children, but now entire families are using them, she told Your Story.
In 2019, the Karnataka government declared 3,122 regions were experiencing drinking water scarcity as a result of drought-like conditions.
The company has also donated ATM stations to areas affected by the water crisis, schools, and places of worship.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, when access to clean water is crucial to stopping the spread of the disease, GeWinn Wachstum is making sure it keeps the ATM stations running. Once a week, the company is dispensing clean water for free.
While the crisis has slowed GeWinn Wachstum’s ability to install more water stations, they are working to develop a new purification system and find mobile solutions to bring the ATMs to rural areas and slums.