Jyoti Sharma


This profile was prepared when Jyoti Sharma was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Jyoti’s organization, Forum for Organised Resource Conservation and Enhancement (FORCE), is creating community water management structures. She has built a portfolio of water conservation technologies that enables communities to see the impact that changing their consumption patterns can have on local water resources. FORCE has created the model for disseminating community-scale water conservation structures across India. For example, by introducing a rainwater catchment structure in a community that would serve 20 families Jyoti garners the support of other people in adjacent neighborhoods who also want to introduce catchment structures in their areas. The water conservation structures give the community a physical rallying point for further dissemination of conservation technology to individual households and behavioral conservation efforts on an individual level. To explain the reaction she is trying to elicit from people with respect to their responsibility to conserve a water resource, she relates a story about her father who grew up in rural India. He would have to jump from leaf to leaf in the summer when traveling to and from school because the ground was so hot. Jyoti explained that in the same way this experience of traveling to school would be foreign for her and her children, people are also a generation removed from how their families have dealt with the recognition of water as a precious resource and their need to conserve it.

Jyoti has combined technological interventions with a community governance structure that makes citizens responsible for consumption decisions. In order to build a citizen base of support for water conservation efforts, Jyoti begins her work at the community level where behavioral change can best be effected. The process of building the structures, surveying the neighborhood and encouraging citizens to invest in individual water saving technologies all change the consumption goals of a given locality. When citizens’ internalize the scarcity of water they also begin to access latent traditional methods for individual water conservation. Jyoti has seen her introduction of FORCE conservation technologies stimulate a community’s ability to remember water conservation techniques that were lost a generation ago.

Jyoti sustains a community’s choice to change consumption goals by recruiting Jal Rakshaks (Water Guardians) in every community where FORCE works. Jal Rakshaks are defined by their leadership in water conservation efforts but more importantly by their ability to organize a community around lasting change in consumption patterns. The Jal Rakshaks is the point of contact for FORCE and enables the organization to spread the message of water conservation and stewardship effectively to other communities. FORCE supports the work of Jal Rakshaks in over 250 locations through partnerships with private industry, local governments, technical experts, and media. Jyoti has brought together disparate parts of the water conservation community as part of her approach to spreading not only the technological interventions but a broader strategy to support lasting change in local participation in water management.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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