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Harvesting rainwater for India's driest region

Published 2:56 PM ET, Thu December 3, 2015
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01 CNN Hero Bhagwati Agrawal01 CNN Hero Bhagwati Agrawal
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For the last 12 years, CNN Hero Bhagwati Agrawal has been fighting the water crisis in his homeland of India. He and his nonprofit created a rainwater harvesting system called Aakash Ganga -- Hindi for "River from the Sky." Harsha Vadlamani/Getty Images Assignment for CNN
Aakash Ganga is a network of rooftops, gutters, pipes and underground reservoirs that collect and store the monsoon rains. Now the system provides clean, safe drinking water to six villages -- 10,000 people -- all year long. Pictured here, a sign shows one village's layout of household and community tanks. Harsha Vadlamani/Getty Images Assignment for CNN
"Growing up, every morning I accompanied my mother to fetch water—a daily ritual," Agrawal said. No longer having to spend hours trekking miles to fetch water each day now enables women to become more economically productive. Harsha Vadlamani/Getty Images Assignment for CNN
Aakash Ganga was designed to provide water to the whole community. Half of the water collected from the rooftops goes to the homeowners. The other half goes to a community reservoir. Harsha Vadlamani/Getty Images Assignment for CNN
Agrawal started his nonprofit, Sustainable Solutions, after a successful career in the U.S. doing research and development at Fortune 500 companies. Harsha Vadlamani/Getty Images Assignment for CNN
The rainwater is clean and safe. Agrawal says the people call it "sweet water." Harsha Vadlamani/Getty Images Assignment for CNN
Agrawal's system integrates the villages' cultural traditions. "For the system to last, it needs to be embraced by the community. They need to be part of it." Harsha Vadlamani/Getty Images Assignment for CNN