About Us

About Us

WH 30 years cmyk

Our Mission
“Working with rural communities to harvest the monsoon rains, enabling the poorest people to reap the benefits of safer and sustainable water.” 

WaterHarvest (formerly Wells for India) is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1987 by Dr Nicholas Grey and Professor Mary Grey after their visit to Rajasthan, which was then in the grip of a terrible drought.   There had been little rain since 1982 and the women were forced to walk further and further in desperate search for water.


We have provided grant funding and technical support for water-based rural development projects in India since 1987.

Our headquarters are in Winchester, UK. We also have an office in Udaipur, Rajasthan, registered with the Reserve Bank of India as a Liaison Office.

The main activities of our UK office are:

  • Raising funds and maintaining contact with donors and supporters;
  • Overseeing the quality and impact of the work we support in India;
  • Overall management of the organisation’s finances;
  • Strategic development of the organisation;
  • Supporting good governance and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.

The main activities of our India Office are:

  • Providing practical support for our local partner organisations, and, through them, people living in poverty in rural India;
  • Providing and coordinating expertise on water harvesting and development in rural drylands;
  • Advocating small-scale, locally-managed solutions for sustainable water and development;
  • Monitoring the implementation, management and accounting of projects.

WaterHarvest is registered in England and Wales as company no. 6484901 and as charity no. 1127564.

Battling Climate Change in Rural India

Climate change threatens serious implications for our natural resources, our infrastructure as well as our food and water security. India is recognised as one of the most vulnerable countries to climatic variability, with much of the nation’s lowest socio-economic communities directly dependent on primary natural resources for their livelihoods, including rainfall for water consumption and crop production. For these marginalised communities, the impact of climate change cannot be understated. The World Bank projects that the pressures on India’s water, air, soil and forests are likely to be the most globally intense by 2020.

Rajasthan is amongst the most climate-sensitive states in India.

The Deepening Drought of the Kutch District, Gujarat: 893 Villages Declared Scarcity Hit.

For the rural communities of the Kutch district of Gujarat, access to sustainable water supplies has been a distressing issue for decades. Considered one of the aridest zones throughout India, water security has become a deepening crisis and devastating consequences are continuing to occur. In 2017, we began a partnership with Samerth Trust, to collaboratively tackle these water security issues. In seek of improving the conditions for those within this perennial water scarce area, we are constructing 73 roof rainwater harvesting systems in Dholavira village, helping families capture the precious monsoon rains and store in individual tanks for year-round drinking water.

MEASURING PROJECT IMPACTS: Changes in the Gangeshwar Watershed, Rajasthan

Grant awarding bodies, when they provide WaterHarvest with funding, always ask us to submit evidence that our projects are achieving their objectives. Reporting that we have constructed 100 taankas in a village or have established 10 self-help groups, our outputs, are easy to report on. Much more challenging is to provide evidence of longer-term change; the impacts. These are not usually visible for a few years after a project has ended.

We have recently received a copy of a Master of Science thesis entitled Gangeshwar Watershed Analysis and Soil Erosion Modelling in Southern Rajasthan, India. The author,

Revive and Thrive Appeal Update: Chauka Construction Begins in Balapura and Antoli village

In April earlier this year, we launched the Revive and Thrive appeal to help the farmers of 10 villages within the Tonk District of Rajasthan to regain control of their suffering livelihoods. Following persistent droughts and the degradation of pasture land, many poor farmers have been deprived of good grazing, leaving them in a battle with impoverishment. Unable to feed their herds, these farmers have not only been stripped of their income, yet their way of life. The Revive and Thrive appeal has been designed to overcome the collapse of nomadic farming in these communities, enabling a greater future for these farmers and their families.

Plaudits for our Partner: Tarun Bharat Sangh’s Commendation from the United Nations

In October 2014, we formed a partnership with Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) to tackle water security issues for the marginalised communities of Rajasthan. Working alongside this reputable NGO, we have improved Water Use Efficiency across five villages (Raipura, Bhaal, Gopalpura, Govindpura and Jaitpura) and have since begun a new project focusing on 30 additional villages in the Rivulet Arvari, Sarsa and Bhagani basin. Our most recent collaborative project with TBS focuses on raising awareness amongst local farmers and youth regarding Water Use Efficiency, whilst also installing Sprinkler and Drip Irrigation Systems to improve agriculture production.

For these local farmers,

Battling Water Vulnerability in the Dudu Block, Jaipur District

The availability and accessibility of potable water in the Jaipur District has been a distressing issue for its people in recent years. Following chronic and persistent droughts, water vulnerability has dictated the lives of these marginalised communities, crippling educations and livelihoods alike. Within the Jaipur District, the Dudu block in particular suffers; the area has seen 24 severe droughts since the independence of India in 1947, an illustration of the extreme water scarce conditions. Situated near the Sambhar Salt Lake, the ground water in the Dudu block is also pervaded with high salinity and fluoride. Although incredibly dangerous for both humans and cattle to consume,

India, Rajasthan, Phalodi, January 2011 Women collecting rainwater from a taanka. These underground concrete water tanks collect rainwater on a large circular catchment area. Depending on the size of the tanks and catchment areas between 25.000 and 50.000 liters of drinking water can be collected which is theoretically enough to last the average family four to eight months. Copyright Dieter Telemans
India, Rajasthan, Phalodi, January 2011
Women collecting rainwater from a taanka. These underground concrete water tanks collect rainwater on a large circular catchment area. Depending on the size of the tanks and catchment areas between 25.000 and 50.000 liters of drinking water can be collected which is theoretically enough to last the average family four to eight months.
Copyright Dieter Telemans

We and our partners work with the poorest rural communities to provide a sustainable water source.

We implement low-cost, sustainable solutions combining our technical expertise with traditional wisdom, to capture and store precious monsoon rain (i.e. water harvesting). Over the past 30 years, simple but highly effective harvesting structures have aided us to help the maximum number of people with the minimum of funding. This includes:

  • Taankas
  • Irrigation systems
  • Roof Rain Water Harvesting Systems
  • Chaukas
  • Well Renovation
  • Johads

This is implemented through valued partnerships with local non-governmental organisations, who each share our vision and work in the most remote areas. Our partners are all committed to grassroots participation and transparency in all operations.

At WaterHarvest we never seek to impose solutions, either on our partners or on beneficiaries. The projects we support are designed using participatory (also known as “demand-led”) methods, involving people in planning and taking action for their own future. We believe that any support we provide must not encourage any sense of dependency among the communities where we work. Since the first projects we supported, villagers have made in-kind contributions to the work such as co-investment, donating land, or, more usually, their labour. This encourages a sense of long-term ownership and responsibility, rather than short-term dependency on handouts.

India, Rajasthan, Phalodi, January 2011 Villagers are deepening a naadi or village pond. It is used for storing water from the adjoining natural catchment area during the rainy season. The water availability can range from a few months to a year and is generally used to provide water for the community livestock. This is only one of the many ways people in Rajasthan have learned to capture and store water and this explains why the Thar Desert has for many generations been the worldÕs most populated desert. These techniques could easily be applied in other arid regions around the globe. Copyright Dieter Telemans

In order to sustain our water harvesting systems, we also support beneficiaries to form and run village development committees which manage natural resources responsibly and plan collectively for their community’s future. Community funds are set up to maintain ongoing repairs of the water harvesting structures which are built using affordable materials available locally. Beneficiaries also receive training to develop various skills such as farming, masonry and business. All of our projects are independently evaluated to check whether they have achieved the planned impacts.

Women and Girls17654

Women and girls in India are systematically disadvantaged. Development work provides opportunities to improve the position of women and girls, both within the private family context and in wider society. Our work can contribute to this by relieving drudgery, increasing access to and control of resources, increasing participation in decision-making, and improving access to education.

Women have the main responsibility of fetching water in the household. Women in drylands typically spend hours each day walking to a water source and carrying heavy pots (around 20 kg!) full of unsafe water back home. Making water safer, and available closer to home, means women can spend the time they would have spent fetching water on other activities, including going to school, spending time with the family and income-generating activities. Women are involved in decision-making in all our projects, taking an active role in village development committees and self-help groups. Where we provide opportunities for women to learn to manage money more effectively, share problems, work together towards common goals, and gain access to training.


Sanitation and hygiene play a crucial role in preserving life, and increasing health and wellbeing. WBoys washing handse support the provision of sanitation and hygiene education in schools, communities and at household level. India has the highest rate of open defecation in the world (WHO-UNICEF, 2010). Many people often have to walk for miles each day to access relatively safe and private open space. For the more vulnerable members of communities (pregnant women, children, and elderly, or disabled, people) fulfilling their basic human needs can be a dangerous and degrading ordeal. This lack of sanitation facilities have also had a major factor in girls not attending school.

We support projects to encourage whole communities to build toilets in every household and improve their hygiene practices. We organise training in soap-making, toilet building and filtration. We encourage people to change the habits of a lifetime, by taking care of the hygiene of their drinking water and food preparation, washing hands, and using toilets. We do this by working at community level, training women to act as “change agents”, and by supporting awareness-raising work in communities.


17632We use the term livelihood to cover the sources of income and goods that enable people meet their basic material and social needs. The communities we work with usually rely on a combination of small-scale farming and labour work (low-skilled, low-paid, seasonal work), either for a private employer, or for the national welfare-for-work scheme. With little choice, many adults and children may have to put their lives at risk by working in dangerous conditions.

Our work enables people to farm more productively, and to diversify their sources of income, so they can have a more stable, secure future without relying on outside help. Most people in poor, rural communities in Rajasthan practise rain-fed, subsistence farming. This means that they rely on the monsoon to grow crops once a year. Farming in drylands is challenging, but with the right inputs it can be productive and a source of food and income. Many of our projects organise training in various aspects of farming, such as field trials and livestock vet camps, where vets take their expertise and treatments to villages.

Those whose situations are not suitable for farming are aided with alternative sources of income such as tailoring; soap-making; food processing; masonry and shop-keeping.

Meet The Team

UK Team


Julia Seal, Liaison Manager

Julia has a degree in International Development Studies. She joined WaterHarvest in 2004. Her main area of work is fundraising and liaising with donors. She also contributes to WaterHarvest’s project assessment, monitoring and evaluation processes in the UK, and plays a key role in maintaining project information systems in the UK

Dawn Flach, Operations Manager

Dawn joined WaterHarvest in 2004. She oversees and maintains finance and operations in the UK office, and is responsible for marketing and communications.  She also contributes to Water Harvest’s project assessment, monitoring and evaluation processes.



Om Prakash Sharma, Country director

Om Prakash is a trained civil engineer with many years’ experience in the development sector. He joined the organisation in 2000, having provided technical support to our projects while working at AFPRO for over a decade before that. He oversees the India office team, working collaboratively with local partner agencies and villagers. He has given presentations on our work at national and international conferences.


Dinesh Sharma, Finance Manager

Dinesh joined the team in 2007. He oversees the finance administration system in the India office. He has a master’s degree in commerce and 22 years’ experience in the corporate and development sectors.


Somendra Kumar Sharma, Programme Coordinator (Research and Development)

Somendra joined in 2009. He has a master’s degree in Geography, and skills in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing applications, with particular reference to water resources.


max.jpg.gifNeil Mehta (Chairman of Trustees)
Neil describes himself as a digital entrepreneur, investor, board director and mentor. He has been heavily involved in charities operating in UK and overseas.  Find out more about Neil here

Dr. Kevin Cook
Kevin is a Lecturer in Geography at the University of Northampton. He has a special interest in development issues. His research projects include: the role of women in community development in Kenya; and sand dams. He has been a supporter of the charity since the beginning.

Maureen Gupta

Dr. Maureen Gupta
Maureen was born in Shillong, North-East India and after graduating as a doctor, was posted to Karnataka, before moving to the UK where she worked in the NHS for over 30 years. Having retired recently, Dr. Gupta has enjoyed having more time supporting several charities, and particularly enjoys bringing a different perspective to WaterHarvest, being a woman, an Indian and a doctor.

Peter McManus
After more than 40 years in the computer industry, Peter is now a trustee of several charities, including WaterHarvest and Churches Together in Winchester. He was IBM Europe Development Director (Entry Systems), and also one of the founders of the software company, Active Navigation, a leader in Information Governance.

Dr. Max Wilson
Max has a doctorate in metallurgy. He held senior management positions in large companies in the UK and overseas, but now specialises in helping small high-tech companies to grow. He is currently a director of ionscope Ltd, a spin-out from Imperial College and the University of Cambridge, in addition to working with a number of not-for-profit organisations.

Nicola Floyd
Nicola is a director of IPAF, which works with alternative funds to find non executive directors, and is a trustee of a small charitable trust.  Nicola has worked in Hong Kong, Bangkok and New York and is a CFA Charterholder. Find out more about Nicola here

Our Ambassadors


Dr Mark Everard – Associate Professor of Ecosystem Services, UWE Bristol

“I have been documenting learning from my visit to the projects in April 2016 ….. what WaterHarvest is doing is one of those precious jewels scattered across the face of the Earth from which wider society needs to learn, before the roots of the tree are totally debilitated.”


Nick Langham – a member of Project Board, speaker & supporter

“I always feel confident talking about WaterHarvest; as a small charity it maximises the benefits of the funds it raises, making use of willing and committed volunteers. It has classic NGO credentials, working with local people, ensuring ownership of projects and thus sustainability. WaterHarvest does, and will continue to make a difference!”




Sam Sharpe – former Trustee of WaterHarvest 2014 to 2018

“Water Harvest has done a great job over 30 years in supporting poor communities in desert areas of Rajasthan. WaterHarvest promotes a mix of traditional and new technologies to help villages manage scarce water supplies as effectively as possible. It’s very exciting that, as Water Harvest celebrates its 30th anniversary, WaterWisdom is being launched as fully Indian organisation to build on and expand its work.”

Sam has been Chief Finance Officer of Save the Children UK since September 2014. Previously he worked for nearly 30 years with the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). He was Head of DFID’s office in India from 2010 to 2014, having worked previously in India from 1997 to 2000. His other posts included three years as DFID’s Finance Director.

Daphne from Shrewsbury – long term supporter

“WaterHarvest helps people to help themselves through water harvesting and sanitation work; restoring dignity; freeing women and children  from the drudgery of carrying water; bringing improvements to crops, income and health. New facets to life open up.  All this from water? Yes.  Water is such a basic human need, and if helping others means anything at all, it can hardly be better than this.”

Bob Durston – ex Treasurer & supporter

“We were so impressed by the work, and how much could be achieved by spending relatively modest sums of money to alleviate water shortages and poverty, when it is spent wisely and carefully controlled. My lasting memory of our visit was to see an orchard in the middle of the desert as a result of the work by WaterHarvest.”

 Tom Holder – volunteer & supporter

“What attracted me to WaterHarvest was the way in which, right from the beginning, the charity worked for the long haul, for a sustainable future”

 Pam Meir – volunteer & supporter

“I wholly endorse the philosophy of WaterHarvest. The projects have an impact far beyond their cost and have the capacity to radically change lives for the better.”

Helen Pakeman – volunteer & supporter

“It was a privilege and a pleasure working as a volunteer with WaterHarvest. It gave me the opportunity to go to India and see at first hand the extraordinary dedication of the team, and the resourcefulness of the people whose lives are changed by the work of WaterHarvest and its partners. This is a small charity making a big difference: being small it has more flexibility to match the work to the needs, can keep its admin costs incredibly low, and maintain its enthusiasm.  What a joy to be part of it.”

Deacon Glenda Sidding and Ken Sidding

“WaterHarvest goes further than just providing safer water. Time saved by the women in collecting water helps to liberate them and the charity has enabled them to establish self-help groups. Recent sanitation work has improved the quality of life in each village, particularly for women and children.”


Hugh Boulter – ex Trustee

Jo Tanter – volunteer & supporteFred Dickenson – supporter

Jon Willis – long term supporter & volunteer

Angela Willis – long term supporter & volunteer 

WH 30 years cmykWe aim to develop effective methods and approaches that can be replicated and shared regionally, nationally and internationally.  We facilitate links between researchers, policy-makers, practitioners in the field, and village communities.

Annual report & accounts


In the year to 31st March 2018, our projects reached more than 220 villages and over 165,000 of the some of the poorest people in the world.

Our income was £290,480 and our charitable expenditure was £238,447.

Out of every pound we spend, we put 80p towards delivering programmes to support communities in India, 18p towards investing to generate future funds and 2p towards ensuring good governance. We are leveraging a further 91p from local sources in India.

Click here to see our full annual report and audited accounts for the year to 31st March 2018 on the Charity Commission website.

WaterHarvest Magazines/Annual Reviews

Welcome to WaterHarvest magazine/Annual Review – our biannual look at what we’ve been up to in India and the UK, amazing achievements from our supporters, lots of ideas about how to help us raise awareness and funds and our range of gifts and cards.

Our Annual Review 2017-18 is out now!

Download 2017-18 Annual Review (pdf format)

Prefer a hard copy? E-mail us at: [email protected] and we’ll put a free copy in the post

What do you think? 

Get in touch with your views, news and any ideas for the magazine, and join our online mailing list to keep up to date.  E-mail us at: [email protected]

Previous editions from Spring 2015

Download 065 Spring 2018 (pdf format)

Download 064 Autumn 2017 (pdf format)

Download 062 Autumn 2016 (pdf format)

Download 061 Spring 2016 (pdf format)

Download 060 Autumn 2015 (pdf format)

Download 059 Spring 2015 (pdf format)

Download 063 Spring 2017 (pdf format)

See our privacy policy here.

In 2018 we set up a partner organisation, Water Wisdom Foundation. The Foundation is a Section 8 company (NGO). Our two organisations are separate but work in close harmony and embody the same values.

Water Wisdom Foundation has been established to build on and continue 30 years of great achievements in India with WaterHarvest UK (formerly Wells for India).
Water Wisdom Foundation is an independent Indian organization committed to continuing the work to bring long lasting sustainable impacts to the lives of the underprivileged.
It is a Section 8 Company, and was incorporated on 23rd November 2017 with the Registrar of Companies, Delhi. The Company’s registered office is H 2, Ridge Castle, Dadabari Road, Mehrauli New Delhi- 110030.

WaterHarvest UK’s work in India is continuing in parallel with that of the Water Wisdom Foundation.

Water Wisdom Foundation is guided by key principles of social justice, leveraging partnerships, innovation, equity, gender equality, sustainability, building capacities at various levels and empowering communities. The emphasis in their work is on the inclusion of vulnerable and marginalized communities by ensuring sustainability of water availability in terms of portability, adequacy, convenience, affordability etc. Water Wisdom Foundation design and implement its initiatives through social, institutional, technical, environmental, and financial sustainability.


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