Asharfi Lal is almost 40 years old. He lives in one of India's poorest states, Uttar Pradesh. His area is a dry one, and if you go back just a few decades, you'll see that most of the people here had no access to clean water.
In 1981, the Indian government decided to change that, and quickly. In just ten years, thousands of wells were installed across Uttar Pradesh. That was good news for people in the '80s but, as it turns out, not so great for their kids. The UN's "Water Decade" (1981-1990) may have included a ton of new wells, but what it didn't include was a full-fledged maintenance program to keep them running over time.
Soon after the wells started failing, the government responded by creating repair teams. Asharfi remembers when he came across one of them for the first time. He went home and practiced on his own time by repairing his own hand pump. After working for the government, he eventually started his own business.
If he wanted to grow,
Asharfi needed venture capital. Early last year, he got it.
Through a new well mechanics program started by our local partner, WaterAid, Asharfi was recruited for training. charity: water invested $64,000 across four mechanics centers, including Asharfi's, training and equipping a total of 21 mechanics. Suited up with advanced tools, a crew, and a facility to manage, Asharfi's team was challenged to repair 50 wells by the end of the year.
When we met him halfway through the year, his team had already repaired 150 wells. Collectively, the four teams we funded were able to reach four times the number of people as originally planned. Of the total requests for hand-pump repairs, 93% were successfully addressed within 24 hours, and only 3% of repair requests took more than two days to address. Within the next few years, Asharfi hopes to expand his team to include 10-15 more mechanics that will cover a larger area of 100 villages.