Abstract for: The Evolutionary Dynamics of Indias Rural Water Systems: Part I

Poor microbial water quality management in rural India causes numerous instances of fatal, yet preventable, waterborne diseases. One intervention to reduce this disease is testing and sharing water quality information to increase awareness of water quality issues and safe water practices. In order to better understand how this particular informational intervention could be most impactful in the context of rural India, this paper explores the evolutionary dynamics of rural water management. The focus of the first phase of this work, presented here, is to generate insight into - not a working model of - the dynamics surrounding water systems in the various rural terrains of India. This work, conducted using a combination of field observations, interviews, and group model building exercises, considers water schemes in the mountainous region of the state of Uttarakhand, and also in the plains of Jharkhand. Analysis of water schemes in these two diverse contexts of rural India has elicited five stages of the evolutionary dynamics that contribute to water safety in a village: the maturity of community institutions, infrastructure and usage of sanitation systems, water quantity and availability, operation & maintenance of water distribution systems, and the dynamics of water quality and health. This work presents a model invoked from ethnography, and is the first model to characterize factors influencing water quality in rural India.