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Handwashing at Sendurkhar Primary School
Without an understanding of good hygiene, safe water and sanitation are rendered useless. FRANK Water’s NGO partner, Samerth, include community hygiene training as a critical element of every project. Twice a month, Samerth staff make a visit to a school in one of the areas they’re working in to talk about the importance of washing hands before and after meals & after going to the toilet. This simple approach has life-changing consequences.
For example, when Samerth began work in the Sendurkhar Primary school, there was no dedicated space for handwashing, no running water or soap. Out of the 97 students in the school, most wouldn’t know to wash their hands at all during the school day.
After the talk that Samerth staff gave to the pupils, Sendurkhar School took the initiative and created a dedicated space for handwashing. Although there was no hand pump in the school, they improvised and kept a bucket filled with water in the space at all times, along with a bar of soap. The children were encouraged to wash hands regularly.
Over time, handwashing became a habit to the extent that children took what they’d learned home and encouraged their parents and siblings to wash their hands too.
When we met him, the headmaster – Mr. Tihari Lalji, reported that “This is the first year in many that we haven’t had to set up a mobile health camp to treat malaria/diarrhea & typhoid in the school. We’ve been been able to ride through the season without a single child falling sick!”
With one simple act, we can reduce sick days, improve education and encourage whole families to change their behaviour.
An earthquake-devasted village on the road to recovery...
Mithu is 28 years old and faces a daily struggle to make sure her family of five has enough water for their needs. Like other residents of Lakuribhanjyang, she was particularly affected by the earthquake in 2015, which wiped out the local water supply. As the only woman in her household, Mithu is solely responsible for fetching water. She's forced to travel across rocky and uneven ground to collect water, a journey which takes an hour and a half.
Mithu has land to grow vegetables but doesn’t have enough water to do so. With a new water supply, she's already planning to grow food for her family to eat and for her to sell at a local market to make a living. For Mithu, a free, sustainable source of safe water for herself and her family is worth more than anything.
I have clean water. I have water near my house. I have a new way of life
If you drive up into the mountains of East India, it’ll take a while before you reach the village of Galipadu. But if you do get there, you might meet Kantam Vantala. Kantam is 65 years old. Until three months ago, it’d take her around 4 hours per day to collect the 130 litres she needed for her family to drink, cook and wash with.
In the rainy season this was a slippery, dirty, depressing task. In the dry season, the water source would dry to almost nothing and arguments would break out over how much water each family was allowed.
Over the last 3 months, things have changed. Support from Bristol’s Water Charity, FRANK Water and its local partner, VJNNS, along with hard work from the 300 people who live in the village means that Galipadu is now connected to a gravity fed water system, which feeds safe, fresh water from a mountain spring to four taps around the village.
The moment water started flowing from the taps, Kantam’s life changed.
“The new tap is in the village, near my house, so my water problems are solved in two ways. I have clean water. I have water near my house. I have a new way of life,” she smiles.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2012), every £1 spent on water and sanitation will generate at least four times that amount through increased productivity. Galipadu is no exception.
Water at the doorstep saves the 200 women and girls in the village from hours of drudgery, collecting water each day. People can bathe regularly and incidence of diarrhoea is reduced. Children are free to attend school and women have more time to generate cash in endeavours such as coffee growing. Life has changed.
FRANK Water started work with VJNNS in 2012. By the end of 2015, FRANK Water had completed 10 gravity-fed systems, changing the lives of 3,000 people.
"It's the best thing I've ever done"
Uday Singh donated his well to supply safe drinking water to his village in Kaalapani. When the water supply system was inaugurated with the help of FRANK Water and our partner People's Science Institute he said it's the best thing he's ever done:
“I cannot express my happiness today. Knowing that from today onwards the entire village is going to use my well water, it is giving me a blissful feeling. Earlier I had thought that doing this would earn me votes in the Sarpanch elections but now I feel that donating my well is the best act of my life as it is going to save a lot of lives. Chlorination of my well is also being done regularly. I feel really satisfied with what I have done for my village through this programme”.
The change is unbelievable and the warm handshake unforgettable.
Dosai Korra lives in a small village in Chhattisgarh. When we met her in 2015, she made a lasting impression when she talked about spending her first 75 years collecting water from a river bed that was contaminated by cattle and washing. The tap you can see is 10 yards from her house. The change is unbelievable and the warm handshake unforgettable.
Rainwater Harvesting Changes Lives in Urban Slums in Uttar Pradesh
Salim Khan lives with his wife and four children in Islam Nagar, an urban slum in Agra. They have no access to safe water and sanitation. 25 years ago the family home had its own hand pump that provided a good supply of clean, safe, pleasant-tasting ground water. Since then, the groundwater level has fallen dramatically and as a result the water quality is poor and the hand pump no longer works.
Salim and his neighbours are forced to buy the water they cook with, wash with and drink, from privately owned water tankers, at high prices. Water has more than doubled in price over the last few years and costs are even higher during the Summer. The water supply is inconsistent and often unsafe to drink.
With CURE, our partner NGO, we’ve supported Salim to build a water tank on his roof that can collect and store rainwater. Today he is the proud owner of a water tank that holds up to 5000 litres - enough to last him and his family for up to four months. During the dry season, Salim is able to buy and store water in the tank, saving him and his family money, time and energy.
“I don’t need to rush to fetch water before and after school. I have more time to study and more privacy too.”
Phoolvani Naik is 18 years old and a member of the Bagata tribal community. She lives in Majhi Ukhura village in Odisha, East India. where women and girls like Phoolvani used to spend around two hours a day collecting water from unsafe sources. Waterborne diseases such scabies, diarrhoea and typhoid were prevalent, and there was nowhere safe or private towash or go to the toilet. With our local partner, FRANK Water has worked with the community to ensure that every household in the village now has a safe water supply, a toilet and a bathingroom.
For girls like Phoolvani, this means not only better health, but the opportunity tolive and learn with dignity: “I don’t need to rush to fetch water before and after school. I have more time to study and more privacy too.”
"Now I can protect myself and my son from waterborne problems by consuming safe drinking water"
The people of Kaalapani, a remote, tribal village, have been drawing water from wells and hand pumps for years. But the water that they drink and cook with is heavily contaminated with dangerous levels of fluoride. Too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis – a disease that attacks teeth and bones and can cause crippling pain.
The people in the village couldn’t believe that the water they’d been drinking for so many years was at fault and were overjoyed to learn that their new water supply meant that they could live free from pain and disease. The new water supply was opened last month amidst much excitement:
“Ever since I remember, unknowingly we had been mostly using the fluoride contaminated hand pump and tube well water”, says Sakku Bai, a 35 year old resident of this village. “I used to think that because of my busy work schedule I feel pain in my joints and some times in the stomach as well. My son would also fall sick quite often. But now I know that it was because of the water that we had been consuming. I am happy that I have come to know about it. Now I can protect myself and my son from waterborne problems by consuming safe drinking water which has been provided to us through this programme”.
“We are now free from all water health problems. Our work days are increased and we feel healthy now”
Mr.Ilaiah, 38, works as a labourer in Jayagiri village in Warangal. He and his family had household taps which they’d use for drinking, cooking and bathing. But the water tank was dirty and leaked – allowing drainage water to mix with the water supply. As a result, Mr Ilaiah and his family were often sick with diarrhea, vomiting and joint pains. If he was too sick to work then Mr Ilaiah simply wouldn’t get paid.
The family used to spend around Rs.3000 (£30) per year on medical expenses. This vicious cycle meant that they couldn’t afford to buy commercially purified water.
Working with our partner NGO, Bala Vikasa, FRANK Water has implemented a water purification system in Jayagiri that provides a safe and affordable supply of water to the village. Mr Ilaiah happily shared:
“We are now free from all water related health problems and our investment on medical expense has greatly come down. We are able to work actively. Our work days are increased and we feel healthy now”
Children of a lesser God
Dilip Bundela is nineteen years old. To talk to, Dilip is no different from any other 19 year old boy – he laughs and jokes, likes football and seeing his friends. What sets Dilip apart however, is that he struggles to stand up or walk without help.
Dilip was born disability-free but at around the age of four, he started to suffer terrible pain in his joints. The pain was constant and as time passed, Dilip’s legs began to change shape, becoming bowed and wasted.
Dilip has skeletal fluorosis - caused by too much fluoride in the water supply. Dilip’s family and neighbours would all drink from the same tap but Dilip was unlucky. We don’t know why – it may be that he has a vitamin or mineral deficiency, was particularly malnourished or that his body couldn’t dispose of fluoride as well as some others.
For the most part, people living in remote, rural parts of India don’t understand how fluorosis happens. It’s considered a sort of curse or punishment for something they did wrong in a past life. Children that suffer some kind of disability are said to be ‘from a lesser god.’
Dilip and his family live in Bankpura village, in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. The fluoride levels in Dhar are significantly higher than recommended, due to large amounts of naturally occurring fluoride in the ground. Dilip relies almost completely on his mother to get in and out of bed, around the house and out and about. When Dilip’s mother goes to work as a labourer, he is left alone. Finding and fetching water for her family is just one more time-consuming chore that she’s responsible for.
With our partner PSI, FRANK Water has worked alongside the Bankpura community to help them develop their own low-impact, environmentally sustainable safe water supply. Having identified a safe water source, the village has laid pipes from the source to fill a large communal tank in the village that in turn, feeds multiple taps across the village.
Today, Dilip and his family have a safe, fluoride free tap just outside their house. Dilip’s mother can fetch water from outside her front door, saving her time and worry. And, whilst there’s no guarantee, Dilip may see an improvement in his fluorosis now that the water he drinks is safe.