When the Barefoot College was established in Tilonia in 1972, water in Rajasthan was not only affected by geography but also by social customs. Potable water was hard to find and retain in the desert environment, and the availability and accessibility of drinking water was a primary concern in poor rural communities.
Rural communities throughout India and the rest of the southern hemisphere often suffer from water scarcity, droughts and a lack of clean water sources for sanitation, drinking and cooking. Barefoot College has been providing sustainable community-based water sources using the following guiding principles: a) decentralization of water sources, b) replenishment of water tables, c) participation of rural communities in implementation, d) reduced dependency on external aid and e) fair treatment of women and children, who are the worst affected by water problems like poor hygiene and accessibility.
Barefoot College has implemented the following water solutions to address the variety of water challenges faced in the rural communities: rainwater harvesting (RWH) tanks, dams, Solar Powered Reverse Osmosis (R/O) water desalination plants and wells and ponds for groundwater recharge.
In addition to physical water solutions, Barefoot College has also implemented Neer Jaal (www.neerjaal.org), a water mapping website that is fully controlled and managed by rural communities. Above all, Neer Jaal helps manage scarce water resources across communities in India.