World Water Day 2017
World Water Day gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of one of the biggest challenges facing our world today. Today, there are over 633 million people living without access to safe water – 77 million of these people live in India, 3.6 million of these people live in Tamil Nadu. The theme this year for World Water Day is ‘reducing wastewater and using water efficiently and appropriately.’
Last January, I visited Tamil Nadu to meet with SOTE’s partner organisations. As well as visiting CARE and CRUSADE in northern Tamil Nadu, I was fortunate enough to meet the team at our newest partner MASARD who work with rural communities near Hosur. This was a new experience for me, as I had never previously visited this area of Tamil Nadu. The terrain was different, it felt more mountainous and dryer but it also felt remote and isolated. It was clear to me that access to basic services was a problem for the people living here.
I met a Women’s Self Help Group (WSHG) just after lunch to share stories, introduce SOTE and find out about how our partnership with MASARD could help them. The discussion was intense and fast paced – people get very passionate and vocal when you ask questions such as “what are your biggest challenges on a day to day basis?” One of the key themes raised by the women was access to clean water (or a lack of it in this case).
A woman came up to me and handed me a cup – it was full to the brim with water. But this water wasn’t clear; it was yellow and translucent and it certainly did not look like safe, clean drinking water.
In India, decisions concerning access to water are made by the state. They install pumps in each village which give water but this does not mean that it is safe water to drink. In addition, the pumps are not maintained which exacerbates this problem. This year one of our main areas of work is ensuring that communities are not forced to drink dirty water, which in turn contributes to poor levels of health and the malnutrition.
SOTE’s work with MASARD will create awareness and understanding within the community of drinking unsafe water, and improve the quality of water available. With SOTE’s support, MASARD will set up a water purification system that will convert ground water into clean drinking water, which will be accessed by five villages and up to 10,000 people.
Access to safe drinking water is a human right and a basic human need. I’m pleased we are able to change this for the communities we work with.
If you are in a position to contribute towards our work with safe drinking water, please do so here.
Tom Edwards, Development Officer