Member Profile: Barefoot College

Member Type
Also shown on map.

Barefoot College addresses problems of drinking water, girl education, health & sanitation, rural unemployment, income generation, electricity and power, as well as social awareness and the conservation of ecological systems in rural communities, benefiting the poorest of the poor who have no alternatives.

Date Founded 1972-09-06
Primary Focus Drinking Water - Schools
Secondary Focus Capacity Building
History of Water Projects
Related work not on PWX.

Rain Water Harvesting

Since 1986, the College has focused on rain water harvesting and piped water systems as the emphasis has moved beyond providing clean drinking water to providing easy access to drinking water.

13 villages, 1200 connections and 15000 people now benefit from community piped water supply systems, designed, planned and implemented entirely by the village people. These communities pay Rs. 30/ month for two hours of water per day.

Other water initiatives include:

29 million litres of rain water collected in 470 schools and community centres. This water is the only safe option in areas of brackish water with high iron and fluoride content.
More than 1000 shallow/dried up community open dugwells in 70 villages have been channelised with surface water runoff, through rainwater harvesting from its catchment area during monsoons, as part of the College's groundwater recharging initiatives. This has been a new initiative since 1996.
Desiltation of more than 223 Village Ponds, for recharging groundwater levels surrounding the villages and in its open dugwells has since 1996 been taken up by the College, as a drought poroofing inititative with a long term perspective.
1,400 samples of drinking water covering 78 villages in 8 states tested using mobile testing kits.
45 rural youth trained as barefoot chemists in 8 states.
1166 handpump mechanics trained to carry out all repairs for the 45,250 handpumps in Rajasthan. 45 of these mechanics are women.
15 women have been trained as barefoot engineers, to fabricate and construct overhead water tanks, having a capacity of holding 100,000 litres of water.
250 women trained to plan, supervise and implement a drought proofing initiative of desiltation of village ponds.

The College's efforts have within recent years shifted focus from the availability of drinking water to its control. It is now a social problem because communities are losing control over the distribution of water as the question of who owns the assets remains unresolved.

Hand Pumps

More than 1,737 India Mark II hand pumps were installed between 1979 and 2005. Over 325,000 people continue to benefit from these hand pumps. Despite claims by government engineers that it was technically impossible, 67 hand pumps were installed at 15,000 ft. above sea level in Ladakh and operate at -40° C.

Organization Background

The Barefoot College is a place of learning and unlearning. It's a place where the teacher is the learner and the learner is the teacher. It's a place where NO degrees and certificates are given because in development there are no experts-only resource persons. It's a place where people are encouraged to make mistakes so that they can learn humility, curiosity, the courage to take risks, to innovate, to improvise and to constantly experiment. It's a place where all are treated as equals and there is no hierarchy.

So long as the process leads to the good and welfare of all; so long as problems of discrimination, injustice, exploitation and inequalities are addresssed directly or indirectly; so long as the poor, the deprived and the dispossessed feel its a place they can talk, be heard with dignity and respect, be trained and be given the tools and the skills to improve their own lives the immediate relevance of the Barefoot College to the global poor will always be there.

Annual Water and Sanitation Budget
(in USD)
Annual Non-Water
(in USD)