Indian-American social entrepreneur Bhagwati Agrawal has made his way into the CNN’s Top Ten Heroes of 2015, for creating a rainwater harvesting system that now provides life-changing, safe drinking water across six villages in Rajasthan.
“Each will receive US 10,000 and be recognised at “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” a globally broadcast event that will be telecasted on Sunday, the CNN said today.
The CNN Hero of the Year chosen on the basis of readers’ votes will receive an additional USD 100,000 for his cause.
“As part of their award package, each will also receive free organisational training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide,” it said.
In Rajasthan, water scarcity is a way of life. Women and children walk miles to get water and clean dishes with sand to conserve it.
Agrawal’s system, called Aakash Ganga — Hindi for “River from the Sky” — is a network of rooftops, gutters, pipes and underground reservoirs that collect and store the monsoon rains, which fall from July to September.
The system frees adults to spend time doing more valuable activities. Not having to fetch water allows children, especially girls, to spend more time in school. People report fewer health problems. Dairy cows have become twice as productive.
“The way I look at it, I’m 70 years old,” Agrawal was quoted as saying by the channel.
“I only have maybe 10 years left of active life. Right now I’m like Usain Bolt, the sprinter. … And I will run very fast to accomplish this mission,” he said.
The other members of the list are Jim Withers, Monique Pool, Richard Joyner, Maggie Doyne, Sean Gobin, Kim Carter, Rochelle Ripley, Jody Farley-Berens, Daniel Ivankovich.