Water sustains life, but safe clean drinking water defines civilisation”

Water is connected to every form of life on earth.

An adequate, reliable, clean, accessible, acceptable and safe drinking water supply must be available for every person. The United Nation (UN) and other countries declared access to safe drinking water as a fundamental human right, and an essential step towards improving living standards. Access to water was one of the main goals of Millennium Development Goals (UN-MDGs) and it is also one of the main goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN-SDG goal 6 states that “Water sustains life, but safe clean drinking water defines civilisation”. 

Access to good quality drinking water is a challenge for the rural communities of Rajasthan

The availability and accessibility of drinking water is the first concern. At WaterHarvest, in addition to providing adequate water quantity, we are also focused on improving the quality and safety of household water. A deep understanding and knowledge is necessary to achieve this. Last week, our team participated in training organised by Water Wisdom Foundation, Sehgal Foundation and Canada on Household Water Quality and Treatment (CAWST). 

Improving health

Household water quality and treatment training was focused on improving the water quality and reducing the risk of waterborne disease. It will help to improve the health of individuals, families and communities. By attending this training, we increased our knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about selecting appropriate household water quality and treatment options as well as how to implement and plan household water quality and treatment initiatives.

Beyond training – putting it into practice

As a result of this training, types of water contaminations, their causes and effects were understood. This is necessary for everyone to understand the types of contaminations which are man-made and how to eliminate them; from this, some innovative drawings/pictures can be created and distributed to raise awareness of this. Stopping water becoming contaminated through a multi-barrier approach was also taught, including safety of sources, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection and safe storage; some simple techniques that will be promoted in projects, for example the sedimentation of drinking water through drumstick seeds. There is need to promote the use of filters in each drinking water based project. A ‘jal kalp’ (Steel Bio Sand Filter) is a good alternative. Different factors were discussed which are very useful to bring the behavioural changes in the community, factors such as risk, attitude, norm, ability and self-control. These factors might be very useful in carrying out a situational analysis of a community before implementation, and to motivate these communities to accept the change.  It was worthwhile to know that a filter is being developed by the Sehgal foundation which can remove the fluoride contamination as this is a major chemical contamination found in the ground water in Rajasthan.

Continuing to improve our work

Water quality and treatment is a broad topic, knowledge from this training will be very useful as we are working in the water sector and further, more detailed training would be helpful in future. Water safety plans, along with some learning material, will be developed in different projects to train the communities.

This week’s blog was co-written by Somendra Sharma and Sunita Singh on 17th December 2019.

About Somendra: Somendra is WaterHarvest’s Programme Manager. He is currently responsible for the monitoring of all Waterharvest supported programmes, which focus on community-based water harvesting, water quality and water use efficiency. In particular, Somendra develops systems that monitor project performance, plans projects and assists with project execution.

About Sunita: Sunita has over eight years of work experience in rural communities and water related issues. She worked for Wells for India-India liaison office for 5 years as Project Coordinator (M&E) and now works for WaterHarvest as a consultant. She holds a Master’s degree in social work. Ms. Sunita believes in the philosophy of empowering people to have safe and clean drinking water and sanitation.

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