Overseas Volunteers for A Better India, a U.S.-based nonprofit working towards accelerating social impact projects in India, successfully raised over $400,000 during its annual fundraising event held Sept. 15 at the India Community Center in Milpitas, Calif.

Among the hundreds of donors was Indian American Guru Gowrappan, CEO of  Verizon Media, who announced a donation of $25,000.

The event educated the attendees on the severity of the water crisis in India, and shared OVBI’s success in tackling the problem in over a hundred villages across rural India. The funds raised will help OVBI with its goal to “eliminate water poverty” in 500 villages by 2020, stated a press release.

Currently, 54 percent of India faces extremely high water stress, with 255 districts identified by the Indian government as particularly severe, according to the nonprofit, which added that women have to walk for miles to procure water, farmers have been living in deep financial distress, and major cities such as Chennai are running out of water. “The UN has warned of civil unrest if urgent steps are not taken to address this problem,” it noted.

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

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

In 2019, 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 Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. The interventions, said the organization, include construction of micro recharge structures, desilting of water ways, and building check dams to allow water to percolate and refresh underground aquifers.

“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 Mohan Trikha, chairman of OVBI.

OVBI, by way of its partnerships and effectively leveraging government funds, has been able to scale rapidly from one village in 2017 to 105 villages in 2019, with an average investment of about $1,500 per village of 2,000 residents. These projects have created 1.6 billion gallons of additional water capacity and positively impacted over 160 thousand rural villagers, said OVBI.

“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 Satej Chaudhary, president of OVBI.

“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,” added BV Jagadeesh, co-chairman of OVBI.

For more information or to donate, visit www.eliminatingwaterpoverty.org.

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