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The Indian Water Project: An update

By flamingofoundation, Feb 14 2016 11:00AM

In the UK, we take having clean water ‘on tap’ for granted. However, for many people across the world, the idea of being to easily access clear, clean, uncontaminated water seems like a pipe dream. However, thanks to our project with FRANK Water, this dream has become a reality for the community in the Kabirdham district of Chhattisgarh in India, where the Baiga tribal group reside. It is here that we’ve been supporting FRANK Water in bringing a fresh water supply to the community.

This is much needed. According to FRANK Water’s report into the lives of the villagers the lack of access to safe drinking water has left the ‘poor and helpless, with a reduced lifespan’. The report also notes that ‘consumption of contaminated water and therefore death has been a common phenomenon in the Baiga region in Kabirdham district’.

While death is, of course, the worst-case scenario that comes about as a result of poor drinking water, the lack of a local clean water supply also has far reaching consequences in all aspects of life in places like Chhattisgarh.

It leads to illness, which leads to people being unable to work, which leads to families being further entrenched in poverty. Often this will lead to children being removed from education in order to support their families - a short term solution with terrible long term consequences.

Women and girls are particularly affected by the problems brought by poor local water supply, as it is they who are more likely to be sent to fetch and carry clean water from another - often distant - source. This is time that they could spend at school, or at work. Similarly, a lack of toilets can make it more difficult for girls to go to school once they have begun their periods, often meaning that sadly, they often don’t go at all and do not get the education they need to ensure that the poverty cycle doesn’t repeat itself in the next generation.

In short, a lack of clean water means people lack control over their own lives in places like Chhattisgarh, but our project with FRANK Water is helping to give the power back. And on quite a scale! So far, during this initial phase of work, we have:

• Developed micro level plans (including water resource plans) with 36 villages, of which 23 have been approved by the village general body

• Trained local staff and community representatives on geo-hydrology and participatory groundwater management, liason with local government (including presentation to district water department and meetings to verify mico level plans)

• Established handwashing programmes in 36 villages

• Established sanitation and cleanliness drive in 30 villages

• Carried out menstrual hygiene management training in 7 villages

• Set up a water testing laboratory in order to help communities to test their own water sources.

• Implemented an on-going community mobilization programme and awareness raising activities in all villages

This activity is already having a huge impact on these communities. For example, there is now much greater participation in village meetings, and everyone, including women and children, is getting involved. Those who have undergone training in good sanitation practices are putting what they’ve been taught into action too, with 85% of those trained in menstrual hygiene management saying that they have adopted safer practices.

What is really fantastic is that, far from being a drop in the ocean, the £3,206 provided by Flamingo Foundation has enabled the community to leverage funding from existing government schemes - not only benefited communities directly, but has also helped to leverage a further £38,000 funding which will, quite literally, change lives and open up opportunities in these communities for many years to come.

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They say birds of a feather flock together, and here at the Flamingo Foundation, we really are a close-knit brood. Every week one of our huddle blogs about what we’ve been up to, the latest projects that have allowed us to spread our wings, or what has ruffled our feathers.