AguaClara is a clean drinking water technology system developed at Cornell University and supported by TCI. In India and around the world, AguaClara designs plants that are gravity-powered, electricity-free, and scalable to fit the needs and size of any community. This approach is currently being piloted in the Jharkand villages of Gufu and Ronhe. Working with the local Indian non-governmental development organization PRADAN, AguaClara hopes to demonstrate that these technologies can be owned, operated and maintained independently in Indian villages. Operators are trained to reliably run the treatment system so that tap water is always safe to drink in the village. In 2015, we hope to show that the system can be maintained through an affordable tariff paid by every household.
Micronutrient malnutrition – including iron deficiency anemia (IDA) – is a severe public health problem for the Indian population. Anemia rates remain unacceptably high especially among children and women of reproductive age (79% for children under 3; 55% of non-pregnant women; 59% of pregnant women (NFHS)). As such, TCI is leading a coalition partnership for piloting a flour fortification project in Gujarat, India. Our unique market-based approach – which includes developing a supply chain for micronutrient sachets, generating demand for the sachets through awareness campaigns, and small enterprise capacity building for women members of self-help groups (SHGs) to sell the sachets to fellow community members - is done in hopes of demonstrating a self-sustaining model that (once proven effective) could be scalable and replicable throughout India. Partners include TCI/Cornell University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BAIF Development Research Foundation, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Sight and Life, and a Women’s Federation of SHGs.
Optimizing Soil Health
For a country with a population that is set to grow, India has to produce more to feed its population. For enhancing crop production, optimum soil health is necessary. A first step in protecting soil resources is to quantitatively establish the basic characteristics and current health status of the soil. Farmers and other professionals generally direct their attention to the chemical analysis (macro- and micro-nutrients) of soils, but do not take into account the physical structure and the soil biota. Methods for quantitative measurement, monitoring, and remediation of the soil characteristics has been developed and refined at Cornell University. Using the Cornell Soil Health Test protocol, measured indicators relevant to agricultural production can be utilized to improve soil management and enhance the health of the soils. The TCI and the Crop and Soil Sciences department at Cornell is developing a soil assessment framework for Indian agricultural land in Jharkhand that uses basic physical, chemical and biological indicators to assess soil functioning, identify constraints, and develop management practices to improve soil functioning. This prospect of developing comprehensive, yet inexpensive, soil assessment capabilities in conjunction with other stakeholders including growers, NGO partners like PRADAN, and other research institutions and universities is a unique opportunity to address Indian food production needs.
TCI runs a summer internship program that places Cornell University masters and professional degree candidates as well as undergraduate students with research internship opportunities across India. Interns work to propel TCI research in any of our main research areas, and specific internships/project opportunities depend on what projects are in need of support. This is a competitive, merit-based internship that requires interns to engage (full-time) over the course of 6-10 weeks in an applied, development-related research project in India. TCI internships typically occur in between May-August.