The Water Woman

In a community where access to safe water has changed lives, read how the town water woman is helping to improve them even more by encouraging her neighbors to build toilets at home.

Meet sixty year-old Lakshmi, known as the “water woman” in her community. She lives in a rural village in Karnataka, India where she is responsible for pumping water from the town bore well into mini storage tanks from which villagers can collect water for their families. Taking up where her late husband left off, Lakshmi has been doing this job to earn money every day for the last four years.


While visiting her small, well-kept home we learned about her family and the challenges she has faced since losing her husband. She has done well to manage life in his absence. Through her water job, as well as the sale of fruit from her trees, she has worked hard to fund her childrens' educations, and even her daughter’s wedding. With her children grown and on their own, Lakshmi shared how the time had come for her to invest in something she long-desired, something she felt could provide her safety and better health. Lakshmi took a WaterCredit loan to fund the construction of a toilet at her home.

She shared more on why, “When there was no toilet, I had to spend 30-45 minutes every day to go out for defecation. During rainy days, the roads become muddy and slippery making it unsafe, and unclean. In the night, it wasn’t safe to go out alone. I was constantly afraid of stepping on a snake in the dark. In the day time, I was embarrassed to sit in the field.”


As part of her job, Lakshmi goes around the village to release water from the mini tanks. In doing so, she gets the opportunity to interact with the people. She uses this time to spread awareness about sanitation and good hygiene. She knows there are many houses in the village that do not have sanitary facilities. “People in the village look up to me, they listen to what I say and I have motivated them to consider WaterCredit. I am happy I am able to bring this change to my community and I am happy that I have my own toilet.”

This story was made possible by a generous grant from the Caterpillar Foundation.

Capital: New Delhi
Population of 1.2 billion
77 million lack access to safe water
769 million lack access to improved sanitation
59% of the total population lives on less than US$2 per day