Brown University Students Address Need for Clean Water in India with Ford C3 Grant

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  • Brown University student Danielle Flores (right) with a resident in Kerala.
    Brown University student Danielle Flores (right) with a resident in Kerala.
  • You’re thirsty? Grab a bottle of water. If you’re at home, fill up a glass at the tap. It’s not so easy for many others living in areas with little clean water, like residents in rural areas in Kerala, India. To get water for cooking, drinking and bathing, those in the Kuttanad region of Kerala must walk miles to access water from a community tap or purchase expensive water from unreliable, private vendors.

    Engineering students at Brown University had a different idea in mind for the residents of Kerala. As winners of the 2013 Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) Grant, students at Brown plan to use their funds for Rainwater for Humanity, an initiative that provides a sustainable rainwater catchment solution that yields clean water for those in the region.

    More specifically, Brown will use their $25,000 grant to construct 50 locally-made rainwater harvesting tanks which will serve three to five families each. Their winning idea was an expansion on their original design, installed on a smaller scale in Kerala, with 14 tanks, serving 80 families.

    A region with significant rainfall, Mother Nature provides the rainwater in Kerala while Brown’s design collects and filters it, making it safe for consumption. The catchment is self-sustaining and works as a pay-per-use vending system. Revenue generated covers operating costs, offsets the initial investment and also creates additional capital for future projects.

    Brown intends for their design to provide potable drinking water to 1,250 residents of rural villages in the region by 2014. Not only does their project bring clean water to these residents, saving time and money, it also allows for an increased quality of living, where residents in the community can spend more time with family or work to generate income.

    Read more about Rainwater for Humanity at

  • Brown University students Daniella Flores and Samuel Lee with residents in Kerla standing in front of a rainwater harvesting tank.
  • Flores and Lee with a family in Kerala.