Water

One of the major causes of the high prevalence of water-borne diseases amongst people in the rural parts of the region is lack of access to clean drinking water. Annually, around 40-70% of families in the region are affected by water-borne diseases. The prevalence is highest amongst children of up to nine years. This increases families’ expenditure on healthcare and leads poor families into debt.

Accessing drinking water is still a major problem for most families in the region, with women in particular suffering the drudgery of collecting water for household consumption. In more than 90% of families, women and girls are solely responsible for collecting water. On average, they spend 20 - 60 minutes walking 250 metres to 1 km daily over hilly terrain to collect water. This is in addition to their other work of childcare, working on the farm and

cooking for the family. With the increasing threat of climate variation having an adverse effect on water availability, women will be most affected, as they will spend more time and energy fetching water.

Seva Mandir works to provide access to reliable and clean drinking water for families, reducing the drudgery faced by women and helping make communities healthier. 
We use a host of tried and tested solutions to ensure that all water points in a particular area are functional and provide safe and clean drinking water. Water points in the villages include open wells, handpumps and borewells.

Seva Mandir works in tandem with the community institutions (see Sustainable Development), who identify the needs of families for clean drinking water. With the technical support of Seva Mandir, they identify and design the type of intervention suitable for the area. Open wells are renovated and restored, then a pumping system is installed to supply water to an overhead drinking water tank which acts as a distribution point. Depending on the feasibility, a pipeline is installed  to supply water to families in the vicinity of the village. The water is filtered before it reaches the tank and is then chlorinated to make it safe to drink. Handpumps and government water tanks are also repaired if they are found not to be working properly.

For those families who are too far from any drinking water systems, household filters are provided to treat water in their homes. In this way, we aim to achieve complete access to clean drinking water for all members of the population.

A major aspect of sustainability comes through community contribution in the form of labour and procuring local materials to build such systems. Seva Mandir works primarily with women’s groups (Self-Help Groups - see Empowering Women) to ensure the management of the water systems, and they act as the primary water-user group. The role of these women, who have been trained by Seva Mandir for the purpose, is to collect a nominal monthly fee from each beneficiary family to create a management fund which is used to buy chlorine to eliminate bacterial contamination in the tank and to meet the expense of regular repair and maintenance. Their role also includes regular cleaning of the tank and ensuring that those who use the water adhere to the rules established by the community. They also handle conflicts with the help of community institutions, and they maintain records.


Impact 

Thanks to our interventions, over 7,000 families now have access to clean and safe drinking water through 115 drinking water tanks, 119 restored wells, and 189 handpumps and household water filters. In 40 of our project villages with 150-250 families, over 90% of them now have access to safe water for consumption and the prevalence of water-borne disease has reduced by 30-60% for families with access to clean drinking water. Furthermore, the time spent by women in collecting water has reduced by 20-50 minutes (70% decrease compared with pre-intervention), primarily achieved by bringing drinking water closer to their homes.

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