“Children in Water Governance (Towards water and sanitation consciousnesses)”
The World’s water crisis is having a devastating impact on quality of life for millions of children caught between the twin realities of water scarcity and pollution. In fact, the worlds intensifying water crisis is literally the arbiter of life and death of growing number of children.
EKAM Foundation works with water as this elixir of life is one of the major determinants for the children to celebrate the childhood sustainably.
EKAM Foundation in collaboration with CFI Bhopal, in order for ensuring availability and accessibility for water and sanitation, launched the ‘Community change initiatives’ in Chalis quarter (Mohalla), in Bhopal city.
The most challenging at the same time intriguing aspect of Sustainable Health and Development is ‘Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.’ The challenge is to ‘empower underprivileged to confront the filthy environment that has been imposed on them.’ A shift from ‘utter silence to confronting the filthy identity and environment was the need of the hour. Our working relationship with WASH, therefore, has been ideological rather than instrumental. Sanitation is possible by enabling people to enhance their aspirations to live with dignity.
The young harbingers of change living in Chalis quarter conducted the study through which they found that the scarcity of water had been affecting the life with dignity. They measured the scarcity and analysed the ‘cause-effect’ relationship. More than 70% of people living in Chalis Quarter lacked basic sanitation service, therefore, defecating in the open. They suspected that every time they take drink of water, they are ingesting water-borne killers. They also suspect that 80% of the diseases are spread by consuming unsafe drinking water.
The children performed a street theatre in front of women members and generated a dialogue around the water conservations practices in Chalis quarter. During the process of interaction, it was resolved that the critical mass of the Chalis quarter should be trained on operating water testing tool kit for testing fitness of the water for drinking purpose.
We believe in children’s creative capacities for bringing about a change. We, at Chalis quarter, began the process with a small but an effective step. We intended to bring about change through children.
Children were involved in taking stock of ‘availability and accessibility of water’ in Chalis quarter. The process started with collecting data from individual households. The children were formed into three groups and trained to collect data pertaining to ‘water needs of individual house-holds and sanitation facilities available’. The children collected the data and presented for further analysis. They were facilitated to critically analyse the data.The following inferences were arrived and presented to the community.
• Each Individual House-hold in Chalis quarter had piped water connection excepting a few.
• There was water scarcity in Chalis quarter as the water they were able to get was less than the actual requirement/need. The average deficit was measured to be between 300 to 400 liters per family.
• When there was water scarcity, the water use or allocation priorities were altered. The water allocation for sanitation was ignored whenever there was water scarcity. The water needs for women would also be ignored.
• There was also inequitable distribution of water. There were families which were using electric pumps to fill the tanks and there were families which were manually doing the same. The families which had electric pumps could fetch more water within the stipulated time. People had access to water for two hours per day at early hours. The families which could not afford for electric pumps and drew water manually were getting less water. These aspects, however, needed further observations and dialogue within the community.
• When there was less money, the family health budget was neglected. Similarly, when there was deficit water supply, the water needs for sanitation was neglected. The challenge therefore was to ensure equitable distribution of water for enabling each family to get sufficient water for basic necessities. Water needs for sanitation to be considered as a basic and fundamental necessity.
The children’s collective effort to conduct the ‘WATSAN’ study for their own living environment culminated the formation of ‘Children’s Parliament’.