Not one of the 35 largest cities in India has water service more than an hour or two a day—including the name-brand cities we’ve all heard of: Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi. Many visitors to India never realize this, because hotels, offices, and upper-class homes have pumps and tanks that provide fake 24-hour service—the moment water pressure comes on, the pumps pull as much water into the tanks as possible. The result is a kind of illusory water service for a small slice of the population, and an undermining of efforts to improve overall municipal water service.
Almost half of Indians don’t have access to clean, safe reliable water—540 million people in just a single country. And one in six Indians relies on water that has to be carried home by foot—a time-consuming chore almost always handled by women and girls.
When you tote that 24-pack of half-liter water bottles home from the supermarket next time, try balancing it on your head, like many Indians do. That’s 26 pounds of water—just three gallons. Enough for one U.S. toilet flush.