While the Nobel Peace Prize may applaud many great acts of human kindness and perseverance, not every year's winners are designated as those that feed the masses or even bring essential components of life, such as water, to those in need. In order to applaud these efforts, the Stockholm Water Prize was created as the unofficial "Nobel Prize for water", and each year it recognizes those fighting in the most impoverished nations for potable water to be brought to masses. This year's laureate, however, is one for the record books as he alone has brought water to 1,000 villages across northern India.
Known as "The Water Man of India", Rajendra Singh has had a long history of helping the masses. Originally trained as a medic, Singh's real work began when he was assigned to a rural village in arid Rajasthan and realized that the true need wasn't for healthcare-it was for potable water. Without water the people and the animals could not survive, the wildlife left and the farmers were left destitute. This is how his work began.
"When we started our work, we were only looking at the drinking water crisis and how to solve that" Singh says. "Today our aim is higher."
"This is the century of exploitation, pollution and encroachment. To stop all this, to convert the war on water into peace, that is my life's goal."
Since his mission began Singh has brought water to many villages in India, utilizing modern versions of an ancient Indian technique of rainwater harvesting. Not only is it effective in allowing farmers to hold back the flow of water in the wet season for use at another time, but the judges of the award say that it is simple, cheap and is a beacon of hope for other efforts around the world.
"Today's water problems cannot be solved by science or technology alone. They are human problems of governance, policy, leadership and social resilience" the judges of the award with the Stockholm International Water Institute say. "Rajendra Singh's life work has been in 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 and resource use."
Many water engineers around the world applaud Singh's efforts and the vast scale of work that one man as been able to accomplish, however, his work is not done. And the world still waits to see what else "The Water Man of India" is able to do.
"In a world where demand for freshwater is booming, we will face a sever water crisis within decades if we do not learn how to better take care of our water" director of the Stockholm International Water Institute, Torgny Holmgren says. "Mr. Singh is a beacon of hope."