Few environmental campaigners in recent years can claim to have made as profound a difference as Madhav Datt has. He was just eight years old when he founded Green the Gene as a small environmental club at his school; today, it is one of the world’s largest completely youth-led environmental non-profits, with more than 7,000 young volunteers and projects in 62 countries.
Madhav drew upon his computer science background and personal experience of a childhood in a state of India deeply affected by water scarcity, to pioneer low-cost technology and data-driven solutions for local communities in environmental crises around the world.
From modest circumstances, the motivation to make a difference
Such was the chronic water scarcity in Haryana where he grew up, Madhav has recalled that one summer, his mother had to rush to fill the family’s water tank at two in the afternoon, this being the only time water was supplied due to rationing across their city.
These experiences, plus his discovery from a teacher at school that the local water table was falling by almost two feet a year – thereby making it even harder for people to draw water – spurred him into action. Green the Gene was born, with what was initially a modest school club going on to have a transformative impact on environmental problems across the globe over the ensuing years.
Providing crucial solutions in a stricken world
In growing Green the Gene, Madhav became particularly concerned about the plight of women in communities like his own. He learned of women and girls having to walk for hours to the nearest source of safe and usable water, followed by long journeys back to their families.
This close awareness of the human impact of the water crisis helped Madhav to appreciate that sustainable development was, far from an abstract issue, a very real one affecting real communities. It also drove him to devise workable solutions, such as point-of-use water purification devices that were both low-cost – less than $8 to build – and completely energy self-sufficient.
As a result, thousands of people in rural areas have been able to benefit from safe and usable water access. But Madhav is far from finished there – indeed, he continues to raise more than $1.1 million every year in funding.
Here at Vitabiotics and Wellkid, we couldn’t be more delighted for Madhav’s success, not to mention the passion and drive that made him such a deserving recipient, in 2019, of The Diana Award’s Legacy Award.