OVBI raises over $400,000 at annual gala to fight water crisis in India

indica News Bureau-


Overseas Volunteers for a Better India, or OVBI, a nonprofit based in the US, has raised over $400,000 for its program to Eliminate Water Poverty in 500 villages in India by next year.

Donations poured in from hundreds of attendees and companies, including Verizon Media, whose CEO, Guru Gowrappan, announced a donation of $25,000, at the annual OVBI fundraising event held past month.

The event, held at the India Community Center in Milpitas, CA, educated attendees on the  severity of the water crisis in India and shared OVBI’s success in tackling the problem in more than 100 villages so far.

Currently, 54% of India faces extreme water stress, with 255 districts identified by the government as particularly severe. Women have to walk miles to procure water, farmers live in deep financial distress, and major cities such as Chennai are running out of water. The United Nations has warned of civil unrest if urgent steps are not taken to address this problem.

Leading subject matter experts and executives, including Raju Reddy, former CEO of Sierra Atlantic, and Rathi Murthy, CTO of Gap, shared their thoughts on how non-governmental organizations, such as OVBI, are making a significant impact on this critical issue.

Raju Reddy spoke of how water ponds, which capture and store the annual rains, are helping thousands of farmers ensure that their crops have enough water for the entire year. Rathi Murthy discussed corporate responsibility for sustainability, and how Gap is working to save over 10 billion liters of water by 2020.

Ash Kalra, assembly representative of California’s 37th district, attended the event and highlighted how water is a global issue. “Solving the water challenge in India can help solve the water crisis across the world,” said Representative Kalra. On behalf of the state of California, he recognized OVBI with an official commendation for its work on water.

For the past three years, OVBI has been working on a war footing to avert this national water crisis. This calendar year, partnering closely with government bodies, ex-ISRO scientists, NGOs and local communities, OVBI will complete projects to eliminate water poverty in 105 drought- stricken villages across the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

The interventions include construction of micro recharge structures, de-silting of waterways, and building of check dams to allow water to percolate and refresh underground aquifers.

These projects have created 1.6 billion gallons of additional water capacity and had a positive impact on over 160,000 villagers, with an average investment of $1,500 per village of 2000 people.

“Water is the defining challenge of this century. Solving this crisis can help address many issues, including economic, gender, nutrition and educational challenges. This is why OVBI is focusing all its efforts to address water poverty in India,” said chairman Mohan Trikha.

“Our range of projects across four states, the diverse partnerships we have developed, the variety of interventions we have built and the generosity of our patrons give us confidence that we can achieve our goal of eliminating water poverty in 500 villages by 2020,” said president Satej Chaudhary.

“Our vision is to completely transform India from a state of water poverty to water plenty by 2030. You can eliminate water poverty in a village with a gift of $1,500. We encourage civic- minded citizens to adopt one or more villages, so we can reverse this vicious cycle,” said co-chairman BV Jagadeesh.