As impact investors, DGI backs zNano WaterTech, a company that’s creating new types of nanofiltration membranes for use at industrial scale. Addressing water quality and access are key interests for other impact investors as well. We need to invest in more than technology, however, as the need to understand, improve and scale water infrastructure and governance are also essential. The droughts and floods plaguing India are making these intersections clear.
Cherrapunji, a town in northeastern India, was once “the wettest place on earth,” according to a new article in National Geographic. In recent years, however, the town has struggled with recurring droughts. Kerala, a state in southern India, was inundated by a massive flood last year, yet the area’s wells soon ran dry. What do they have in common? A need for institutions and governance to manage the country’s unpredictable water supplies.
Major urban areas in India already suffer from a lack of sufficient water management, and as smaller towns rapidly industrialize and the population shifts from rural to more urban, the water needs of industries and people could far outstrip the country’s ability to provide them.
“Chennai, a growing south-Indian metropolis, was inundated by rains in 2015 – but this summer, waiting for the monsoon, its 11 million residents have watched three of its four reservoirs run dry,” National Geographic reports. “Meanwhile, across India, the groundwater that provides an invaluable buffer between monsoons is severely depleted and in danger of being irreversibly lost. Welcome to the new India: hot and desiccated and wet and flooded, all at once, with the fates of 1.3 billion people and rich biodiversity hotspots riding upon increasingly unpredictable rains.”