United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust Drinking Water Projects


    Parts of Andhra Pradesh state in South India are dry and arid, and there was extreme lack potable water in some districts there. To allay this situation, The Founder, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, undertook to construct major infrastructure projects to provide potable water to the affected populations. The projects were started by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (the “Trust”) in 1995. This project serves a total population of 3.19 million people. This project goes towards the integration of environmental and social benefits under the SDGs. They link directly with many of the other SDGs in their benefits.


    Water is life-blood of human beings. Potable water scarcity in the affected areas of the state did not meet people’s basic needs for water, sanitation and other needs, and maintain healthy ecosystems. The principle objective of the Trust was to allay this situation, provide safe, clean, healthy and sustainable potable water supply throughout the year to as many vulnerable and marginalised people as possible affected by lack of regular water supply in the area. The provision of potable water goes directly towards making an effective response to SDGs 6, 3, 2 and 11. It integrates all 3 pillars of the 2030 Agenda: social, economic and environment indicators.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    Although the above projects were initiated and completed prior to the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the water projects and their benefits to the local populations are as vital today as they were when they were first initiated, and they form important aspects of various SDGs today, in particular SDGs 6, 3, and 2. The projects are innovative and are subsumed under SDGs 9, and 11. The Trust provided direct hands-on skills training and jobs to local people living in the area during the construction phase of the development. This was a truly transformative event in the lives of millions of people.

    Implementation methodologies

    The water project in the Anantapur district in the state of Andhra Pradesh was deployed in two distinct phases: Phase 1: In 1995, commencement of projects to supply potable water to people in Anantapur district started. The mandate was: Provide safe and potable water throughout the year to as many people as possible. The principle strategy of the Trust was to tap river water, where available, from dams, canals and river beds, and then deliver the water through an elaborate network of storage reservoirs, booster pumps and pipes. Under this phase, the number of people served is more than 1.25 Million. Phase 2: In 2013, just before the commencement of the SDGs in 2015 (and during the concurrency of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations), the Trust commenced this phase to serve people who were not covered under Phase 1. The number of people served under this Phase is over 250,000. The Trust replicated the above models in 2001 to provide potable water to a further 320 villages in Medak and Mahabubnagar districts. Here, it serves more than 1 Million people. This was further replicated in 2007, this time in the West Godavari and East Godavri districts. It serves more than 690,000 people. The entire projects were conceptualised and implemented by the Trust. The land and the technical expertise was provided by the state government at no cost, and executed by an external construction company. The total cost of the projects was US$ 93.5 Million (as per the current exchange rates).


    The positive impact the projects have had on the marginalised communities, the beneficiaries, has been immense. Previously, people have had to trek long distances in the harsh and unbearable heat to fetch water for their needs. Since potable water became readily available to all, there has been marked reduction in many of the water-borne diseases and fluorosis that prevailed previously.The health indices improved drastically for such populations, which had a positive impact on the individuals, their families, and their communities. As well as providing potable water, the Trust concurrently ran health and water awareness programs to sensitise and educate the local communities, the beneficiaries of the water projects. The provision of potable water had a direct impact on the lives of millions of people, and goes towards meeting the targets under SDGs 6, 3, 2 and 11.The projects are scalable as well as sustainable and replicable, as is evidenced by their continued success as of date.

    Factors and Constraints

    1. The engineering and construction company Larsen & Toubro were appointed the executing agency. 2. The government of Andhra Pradesh provided land at no cost, and all the technical expertise in successfully executing these projects. The completed projects were handed over to the state government in 1997 for Phase 1, and in 2015 for Phase 2 of the projects (just prior to the commencement of SDGs in 2015). The Medak and Mahabubnagar, and the West and East Godavari projects were transferred in 2001 and 2007 respectively. 3. The total cost of the projects borne by the Trust was US$ 93.5 Million (as per current currency rates).

    Sustainability and replicability

    All projects, when completed, were formally handed over to the state government, and it successfully operates these projects to date. The projects can be replicated to support SDGs in other places, including in other developing countries. Four methods were deployed in the construction: 1. Direct Pumping: Water is drawn from an existing irrigation dam and is sent to a treatment plant from where it is pumped to 93 villages. 2. Infiltration Well: Infiltration wells are sunk deep into riverbeds to tap the underground water, then sent to “collection wells”, and then distributed to villages. 3. Summer Storage: Water is tapped from a canal during the rainy season and fed into a 100 acre storage tank, and then pumped to villages. 4. Borewells: This scheme covers 279 villages in the affected district and involves drilling deep borewells to access the water. The Trust scaled-up these projects between 2013-15 (during the concurrency of the MDGs).

    COVID-19 Impact

    The impact of Covid-19 has not had an impact on the delivery of potable water to the beneficiaries.

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    Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust
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    Contact Information

    Rathnakar, The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust Drinking Water Projects