100 Water Heroes: Dr. Sheetal Amte-Karajgi


Chief Executive Officer at Maharogi Sewa Samiti, Warora

Dr. Sheetal Amte-Karajgi is an Indian Public Health expert, Disability Specialist and Social Entrepreneur. She is currently the CEO and board member of Maharogi Sewa Samiti (MSS), an NPO that aids those disadvantaged by leprosy. Under Sheetal’s leadership, MSS has helped over 2.7 million marginalised Indian people.

One of Sheetal’s projects involves transforming Anandwan into a sustainable smart village by making it smarter, technologically efficient, economically prosperous and environmentally sensitive. In 2016, Sheetal was named by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as one of their Young Global Leaders, and continued on to be chosen as a member of the WEF Expert Network on Humanitarian Response.

Sheetal is also a fellow of World Innovation Organisation, a joint initiative by the World Summit on Innovation and the United Nations (UN). Sheetal also serves as an advisor to the UN’s i4P (Innovations for Peace).

Sheetal has been a consistent supporter of #RunningDry, and has supported its growth from the outset. She has not only shared the movement’s message, but has contributed an impressive 30km to the tally!

Sheetal is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her impactful career and for being a strong supporter of the #RunningDry movement.


Twitter: AmteSheetal


100 Water Heroes: Aabid Surti


Founder of the Drop Dead Foundation

Aabid Surti is the Founder of the one-man NGO, Drop Dead Foundation (DDF), which fixes leaking taps in residential houses in Mumbai, free of charge.

He read a newspaper article in 2007 that explained that a tap that dripped once every second would lead to the waste of over 1000 litres of water a month. When he became aware of the severity of the looming global water crisis, he was incentivised to found Drop Dead, which uses the tagline, “save every drop, or drop dead.” He hired a plumber, and together, they visit houses to replace the gasket on leaking faucets.

Before he added environmentalist to his list of achievements, Aabid was already a prolific National award-winning author of over 80 books, as well as a screenwriter, cartoonist and artist. Since starting his water-saving initiatives, he was been nominated for the CNN-IBN CJ ‘Be The Change’ Award in 2010, organised the DDF short film competition to raise awareness on water conservation and had his project featured on multiple national and international media platforms.

Aabid is one of our #100waterheroes for taking the unwavering commitment to making water-saving changes in his own community, one tap at a time.


100 Water Heroes: Vedant Goel & Yusuf Soni

Vedant Goel

Vedant Goel

Founders of Ineedsai

Vedant Goel and Yusuf Soni are IT professionals and entrepreneurs from Pune, who met at university and have been doing impactful conservation work ever since. In 2012, they collaborated to launch Ineedsai, a social organisation that “aim[s] to teach the young minds about the importance of water and sustainable use of resources.”

In addition to providing education to youth who are unable to afford it, Ineedsai has also led blood drives and traffic awareness programmes. Regarding environmental conservation projects, Vedant and Yusuf stress the importance of educating young people on the necessity of sustainable living:

Water is one of the most essential necessities of life and yet, it is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, one that needs careful planning and management. We must learn to value every drop, even if we are not directly affected by the water shortage. The state of things inspired my friend, Yusuf Soni, and I to do something about it, and who better to start with than school children? After all, they are the future keepers of our natural resources.

(Goel in Youth Ki Awaaz, 2016)

Yusuf Soni

Yusuf Soni

Vedant and Yusuf travel to schools throughout Maharashtra to educate students on water conservation. One of their initiatives saw over 10 000 students and teachers from various schools using the leftover water from their water bottles to water plants on their campus. Collecting water at the end of the day may seem simple, but it is important in that it “will not only provide an alternate way for water conservation but also help kids understand the concept of sustainable development and use of alternatives” (Sarma, 2016)

Vedant and Yusuf have also been recognised in the respected Limca Book of Records, for having gathered 5011 children to participate in My Teeth – Better Teeth, Better Health, a campaign focused on educating young people about dental hygiene.

Vedant and Yusuf are our #100WaterHeroes for recognising the importance of educating young people on water conservation and sustainable living.

Vedant Linkedin:

100 Water Heroes: Shirish Apte


Superintendent Engineer at Maharashtra Water Resources Department

Shirish Apte is the Superintendent Engineer at the Maharashtra Water Resources Department and is responsible for rejuvenating neglected water tanks in Bhandara. After being posted in Bhandara to complete a World Bank project by 2013, Shirish took the opportunity to repair and restore the 300-year-old Malgujar tanks that "were once a major water source for the district, but due to neglect, water levels had fallen” (Tare, 2017).

These Malgujar tanks were originally created by the Mulguzaars, who were “local Zamindars in eastern Vidarbha about two centuries ago and had constructed several tanks for water harvesting and irrigation” (Singh, 2017). They built and used these tanks until the 1950s, after which the government gained ownership of the tanks and charged a water tax, resulting in their abandonment.

Although over 1000 water tanks had been neglected for years, Shirish came on board in 2008 and restored some of the first tanks in over 2 years. This resulted in “recharged groundwater levels and increased agricultural output and fish production in the area,” and also nudged the district administration to restore a further 21 tanks in the area

Shirish has successfully initiated and encouraged the restoration of numerous traditional water tanks throughout Bhandara, making him one of our #100WaterHeroes

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100 Water Heroes: Prof. Priyanand Agale


Founder and President of Eco Needs Foundation

Professor Priyanand Agale is the Founder and President of the Eco Needs Foundation, “an organisation of young people striving for environmental conservation and an Eco Revolution.” Under Priyanand’s leadership, they were able to transform Dhanora Village into India’s first smart village.

The Eco Needs Foundation has identified five specific facets of development that are necessary for the creation of a smart village:

  • Redevelopment: Changing the layout of the village it’s built environment with new planning and infrastructure.

  • Retrofitting: Improving the overall aesthetic by adding colour to existing structures and modifying the elevation of buildings.

  • Greenfield: Following sustainable development practices

  • e-Pan: The application of smart solutions to improve existing infrastructure; using technology and data to improve infrastructure and services

  • Livelihood: Improving overall living standards by creating employment opportunities through these endeavours.

In conjunction with his work at the Eco Needs Foundation, Priyanand has also pioneered a series of Eco Revolution conferences throughout Asia, many of which have resulted in important environmental commitments by conference participants. For instance, the 2011 India Eco Revolution Conference resulted in the Aurangabad Declaration for River Conservation.

Priyanand is one of our #100WaterHeroes for working towards environmental sustainability and leading the development of India’s first smart village.

Twitter: @AgaleProf


100 Water Heroes: Dr. P.K Mishra


Director of the Indian Association of Soil and Water Conservationists

Dr. P.K Mishra is the Director of the Indian Association of Soil and Water Conservationists (IASWC), an NGO that seeks to “encourage wise land use planning and conservation of soil and water resources so that these basic resources can be utilised to sustain mankind.” Since 1973, IASWC has published the Indian Journal of Soil Conservation, a journal that explores research ranging from degraded land management to agroforestry. Under P.K’s directorship, IASWC has become a respected coalition of “scientists, conservation professionals, administrators and policy makers in assessing the need for soil and water conservation and watershed management.”

Prior to his work with IASWC, P.K graduated from Orissa Orissa University of Agriculture with an M. Tech in Soil and Water Conservation Engineering. He continued on to obtain his PhD in Agricultural Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. In addition to his impressive academic qualifications, P.K has over 30 years experience of field research. He has over 220 publications, including 64 journal publications, 10 books and 39 book chapters.

P.K’s main focus has been drought management and the documentation of indigenous technical knowledge, as well as the development of research watersheds and climate change research initiatives. During his time as the Secretary of Indian Society of Dryland Agriculture (ISDA), P.K organised the “National Symposium on Climate Change and Rainfed Agriculture” in Hyderabad.

P.K is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his work with the Indian Association of Social and Water Conservation, and for dedicating his career to achieving environmental sustainability in India.

Research Gate:

100 Water Heroes: Shama Karkal


CEO of Swasti Health Catalyst

Shama Karkal is the CEO of Swasti Health Catalyst, a health resource centre that seeks to “transform the lives of the marginalised communities by ensuring their access to quality healthcare.” Their core focus is on improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) standards in 29 countries throughout the world. In India alone, they serve 14 states and 2 union territories.

Shama has worked in public health sector for over 12 years, with experience ranging from developmental disabilities, to maternal and child health. Prior to working with Swasti, Shama obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, specialising in Social Action and Community Development.

Shama moved on to work on public health in both the USA and India, and led the highly successful Avahan India AIDS Initiative.

At Swasti, Shama takes charge of their responses to various public health concerns throughout India, and handles international communication between the government, private sector, academia and non-profit partners. In addition to her work at Swasti, Shama is also a Steering Committee Member at the Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health, and a Trustee of the Catalyst Foundation.

Shama is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of her commitment to bettering the public health sector, particularly through WASH initiatives

Twitter: @ShamaKarkal


100 Water Heroes: Dr. Ayyappa Masagi


Managing Director at the Water Literacy Foundation

Dr. Ayyappa Masagi is the Managing Director at the Water Literacy Foundation in India. He is known fondly as ‘Water Warrior’, and has been responsible for transforming water management systems in thirteen states across India. He firmly believes that India - and the world - has enough water for everybody, “provided we use this precious resource judiciously,” and without greed, particularly when it comes to the private industry’s consumption of water (Ramesh, 2017).

Ayyappa has driven the construction of hundreds of lakes and water saving projects, as well as rejuvenated over 1000 dry boreholes. Ayyappa has also been noted in the Limca Book of World records for having built over 700 artificial lakes.

Prior to his work in water conservation, Ayyappa was a Mechanical Engineer for Larsen and Toubro. When reflecting on what inspired his shift to water advocacy, Ayyappa described his experience as a child in a family of impoverished farmers in Gadag, Karnataka:

“In my childhood we faced plenty of water problems. I used to wake up with my mother at 3 am to go and fetch water. This used to happen so often that I took an oath to try and conserve water every day. In fact, throughout my growing years, I thought of ways to conserve water” (In Ramesh, 2017).

Ayyappa’s career is dedicated to making every drop counts, and he ensures that his domestic water use is no different. He has specifically modified his home to be as water wise as possible by installing a rooftop rainwater harvesting system, and collecting grey water in an outside pit to replenish groundwater.

Ayyappa is one of our #100WaterHeroes for dedicating his life to improving India’s water management practices and encouraging people to make every drop count.


100 Water Heroes: Subash Chandra Reddy


Founder and Director of SMARAN

Subash Chandra Reddy is the Founder and Director of SMARAN, an environmental NGO that seeks to “promote natural resource base livelihoods for poor and rural communities and to protect and manage the environment and natural resources with major emphasis on water.” Subash has committed his life and career to environmentalism, with a particular focus on water conservation.

Under Subash’s leadership, SMARAN has successfully been involved in an array of water conservation programmes, including check dam renovations and rainwater harvesting (RWH) projects. SMARAN operates out of Hyderabad, an area particularly affected by drought, and assists farmers in running successful farms through the use of alternative forms of water collection. SMARAN is also involved in an variety of other community upliftment and water saving projects, such as micro-watershed development, nursery raising and RWH in impoverished areas.

Through his work with SMARAN, Subash aims to rejuvenate drought-stricken Hyderabad by implementing RWH throughout society, allowing the local community to self-sustainably manage their own water.

Subash is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of his focus on creating self-sufficient communities through the incorporation of rainwater harvesting

Twitter: @SubhashRedd9


100 Water Heroes: Dr. Vandana Shiva


Environmental Leader

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a renowned academic, author, environmental activist and food sovereignty advocate in India. Vandana is based in Dehli, and serves on the board of the International Forum on Globalisation.

Much of Vandana’s career and life has been dedicated to “the defence and celebration of biodiversity and indigenous knowledge,” leading to her being named an Environmental Hero by Time magazine. Varadana looks to the last 40 years of unsustainable practices and technologies as a predominant contributor to India’s water crisis, and sees this as representative of the global water crisis.

Prior to her work as an environmentalist, Vandana obtained her Master's degree at Panjab University, moving on to work at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. She continued her academic career in Canada, where she earned her Masters in the Philosophy of Science at the University of Guelph. Vandana was awarded her PhD in Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario in 1978. Vandana then moved into interdisciplinary research surrounding science, technology and environmental policy.

In addition to a highly impressive career in academia, Vandana has published over 20 books. Her most recent publication is entitled Making Peace with the Earth (2013), a book that examines the destructive environmental impact of globalisation, arguing that a “shift to earth-centered politics and economics” is necessary for the earth’s restoration.

Vandana is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her fearless dedication to environmental advocacy, and encouragement of biodiversity and traditional knowledge.

Twitter: Dr. Vandana Shiva

100 Water Heroes: Farhad Contractor


Founder of Sambhaav Trust

Farhad Contractor is the founder of Sambhaav Trust, a voluntary organisation that operates in six Indian states, that “works on reviving and strengthening ecologies in more than 300 villages.”

Having been awarded the Smile Fellowship, he chose to spend time in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, “a place that would run out of water and fodder leading to as much as 70% migration” (Khandekar, 2013). Farhad moved on to work in Bakasar, collaborating with villagers to rejuvenate close to 120 beri’s, and facilitate the creation of close to 400 new ones.

Together with six partners, Farhad registersted the Shambaav Trust, focusing on “rainwater harvesting and community empowerment in the Thar Desert.” One of Farhad’s key principles is to engage and activate the community to fix local issues:

“Centuries of indigenous wisdom that has found water for drinking and irrigation - even in extremely arid landscapes - wells, filter ponds and other catchment systems [the wisdom] still rests with the local communities. And even without any government intervention, they know very well how to manage water.” (in Singh, 2010)

Farhad is one of our #100WaterHeroes because he recognises the value of engaging communities, and empowering them to take charge of local water management issues.

Twitter: Farhad Contractor

Sambhaav Website:

100 Water Heroes: Samir Mehta

South Asia Program Director at International Rivers

Based in Mumbai, Samir Mehta is the South Asia Program Director at International Rivers, and works with partners in the region to campaign against the building of harmful dams in the Himalayas. His expertise centre around informing public policy to declare and protect ecologically vulnerable areas in South Asia.

International Rivers works with a network of global water advocates to “stop destructive dams and promote water and energy solutions for a just and sustainable world.” Their work focuses on protecting vital rivers and the people who depend on them. Their work is based largely in Latin America, Asia and Africa, where they combat destructive dam construction and encourage more sustainable solutions.

Prior to his work with International Rivers, Samir attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Statistics and began a career in IT. However, after becoming involved in environmental advocacy in the west, his career focus shifted and he got his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University. Samir then worked with the Bombay Environmental Action Group for 17 years, where he was involved in environmental, town and regional planning and policy-making.

Samir is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of his leadership of the International Rivers’ South Asia Program, and for dedicating his career to environmental sustainability in India.


100 Water Heroes: Jyoti Sharma


Founder and President of the Forum for Organised Resource Conservation and Enhancement

Jyoti Sharma is Founder and President of the Forum For Organised Resource Conservation and Enhancement (FORCE), an NGO that “involves stakeholders from the community, hydrology experts, business leaders, and local politicians in a process that enables communities to create local pockets of water security.” Jyoti’s vision and work with FORCE is to empower local communities to make decisions surrounding water management and conservation, fostering sustainability and self-sufficiency.

After working for over 9 years in corporate and academic fields, Jyoti collaborated with like-minded individuals to launch FORCE in 2004. She is a member of numerous water security groups in India, and has been described as “losing a generational gap in water resource management knowledge by developing a citizen-based water management system run by a competent, decentralised local authority.”

Jyoti has been recognised for her impactful social innovation and entrepreneurship by being named an Ashoka Fellow, a network of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. She is also a Swearer Fellow under Brown University.

Jyoti is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of her focus on empowering communities to make decisions and take responsibility for local water management and conservation



100 Water Heroes: Dr. Sara Ahmed


Gender and Water Policy Specialist

Dr. Sara Ahmed is a Gender and Water Policy Specialist, with close to 30 years of applied research experience on water, livelihoods and social equity. Sara is an Adjunct Professor at Ahmedabad University where she is pioneering their digital water museum, and “engaging young students, local communities and diverse professionals from the water sector, history, architecture and the arts to document our water heritage through visual narratives.” Sara is also currently on the board of WaterAid India.

Prior to this, Sara attained a Phd in Social and Political Sciences and an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. Sara worked as a Senior Program Specialist for the International Development Research Centre (IRDC) in Asia, managing research portfolios on water, food security and climate change. In 2012, she co-edited a book entitled Diverting the Flow: Gender, Equity and Water in South Asia; one of her many publications exploring issues of gender and water management.

Dr. Sara Ahmed is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of her experience in the water sector, and her focus on the intersection of water, climate change and gender.


100 Water Heroes: Dr. Rajendra Singh

Founder and Chairman of Tarun Bharat Sangh


Widely known as the Waterman of India, Dr. Rajendra Singh is a respected water conservationist and environmentalist from Rajasthan, India. In 1975, Rajendra founded Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS), an NGO that focuses on ecological research and land development, aiming to provide fresh, clean water to local inhabitants. Using johad, rainwater storage tanks, check dams, and both traditional and modern techniques, TBS has transformed water access in over 1000 villages, and revived five rivers in Rajasthan, Arvari, Ruparel, Sarsa, Bhagani and Jahaj Wali.

In 2009, Rajendra was awarded the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize for his life’s work of “building social capacity to solve local water problems through participatory action, empowerment of women, linking indigenous know-how with modern scientific and technical approaches and upending traditional patterns of development, resource use, and social norms” (Cele, 2015).  

Rajendra is an Ayurvedic medicine graduate, with a postgraduate degree in Hindi literature. He currently serves as Chairman of TBS and is actively involved in a wide range of water-related NGOs and initiatives throughout the world.

Rajendra is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his prolific work in water conservation and environmentalism, and for being the Waterman of India.

Twitter: @watermanofindia


100 Water Heroes: Amla Ruia


Social Activist and Founder of the Aakar Charitable Trust

Known fondly as Water Mother, Amla Ruia is a social activist based in Mumbai, who has reintroduced traditional water harvesting techniques and built check dams in over 100 villages throughout Rajasthan. Rajasthan is an area particularly affected by drought and, in an effort to find a “sustainable and permanent solution for saving water,” Amla founded Aakar Charitable Trust.

The Aakar Charitable Trust relies on community-based approaches to the “protection of natural sources such as water, vegetation and soil as well as the promotion of dynamic education.” Together with local communities, the trust locates landscapes that will naturally capture water, such as a reservoir. Rather than building a dam from scratch, they are able to build check dams by using “the natural contours of the hilly landscape, building slopes, and shoring up spaces, to catch and keep water in these semi-natural basins or check dams” (Peerzeda, 2017).

Under Amla’s leadership, the Aakar Charitable Trust has built over 200 check dams in 100 villages across Rajasthan. The trust supplies 60% of the resources necessary to build a check dam, and relies on the community to provide the remaining 40%. Amla’s reintroduction of this traditional rainwater harvesting technique has transformed the lives of many living in the Rajasthan region, and she has been able to witness these positive shifts first-hand:

“The whole scenario is not changed, it is transformed. Where they couldn’t even own one cattle, they now have eight to nine. Where they couldn’t take one crop, they are taking two — or sometimes even a third crop. Their female offspring are going to school because the mother no longer has to go long distances to fetch water.” (in Jones, 2017)

Amla is one of our #100WaterHeroes for reintroducing traditional water harvesting techniques as a sustainable solution to Rajasthan’s drought, and for engaging local communities throughout the process.


Aakar Charitable Trust Website: