India (MNN) – Today is World Water Day, a day set aside to consider the importance of water, and the challenges of accessing clean water around the world.
It’s a day that resonates with India Partners, a ministry whose vision is an India rich with hope, justice, and compassion.
Donna Glass of India Partners explains that one of their partners on the ground works in a lot of rural villages that have little to no access to clean water. The people they work with can often be marginalized for a few reasons.
She says, “They might live in a village that they don’t get any government support because they’re internally displaced people so they’re not people native to that particular state. And they might have been living there for 10 to 15 years, and yet their only access to water might be a hand pump that usually, almost always, dries up in during the summertime. And it’s also very laborious to bring water up from a water pump.”
And when the well dries up, they’ll go looking for water elsewhere. Often times alternative waters sources are also contaminated because of animal or human waste.
“So, not only are they having difficulty accessing the water. The water many of them do get ahold of actually ends up making them sick. And so, they lose work time because they’re ill. They lose money because they have to pay to go to the doctor and transportation and medicine.”
It’s just another contributing factor to their impoverished state.
Bringing water to villages
India Partners works with their partner on the ground to bring wells into the village that can go deeper to cope with the dry season and that have a motor to bring the water up. This means people don’t have to travel to get water.
Take Paalagumpu for existence. This village has been around for about 25 years, Glass says.
“Most of the people who work there are agricultural day laborers. Agriculture work isn’t necessarily available 365 days of the year. So, there’s about five months out of the year [where] they don’t have any work to earn anything.”
The village of thatched roofs and dusty paths has a single hand pump.
“In the summertime it becomes non-functional. And they have to walk up to two kilometers each way to bring water from the nearby village… This population is closer to 400 people, and half of them are children. And their nutrition is low because of the lack of funding. They don’t have education or healthcare available to them, mostly due to their economic condition.”
Even when there might be opportunities for children to go to school, many of the children have to help out the household, whether it’s helping to collect water or watching their younger siblings while their parents work.
But it’s not just the children who are negatively impacted by the lack of clean water. The elderly also struggle.
In Paalagumpu there’s a man named Babu Rao. While he’s only 55, he’s considered elderly in this population.
“When you’re living in poverty… your body starts aging faster than it would here in the United States,” Glass explains.
So even when the hand pump is working, it presents a significant physical challenge to people who are older. They have to bend over to operate it and pump over and over again just to get a bucket of water.
In the summertime, it’s even worse. Not only do they have to travel a long way to get water, but then they have to carry heavy buckets or jars back home. It makes things considerably more difficult for people like Babu Rao.
“Having a well right there in their village that can operate year-round is really of great need for their village and for him and for others like him in their village.”
India Partners is working to raise funds in order to install a new well in this village. With the motor-operated well, the village will also learn about water hygiene through a program called Water Access Sanitation and Hygiene Training.
“We talk about what is clean water. We talk about how diseases are transmitted through dirty water. Through animals,” Glass explains.
Even when there is clean water, there’s a risk of disease spreading through public water sources if people are using the same cup or not washing their hands.
And while Paalagumpu’s needs are so great, it’s just one of many villages in India in need of access to clean water. This World Water Day, consider contributing to an India rich with hope, justice, and compassion by giving the gift of water.
While a well costs several thousands of dollars to install, the cost usually breaks down to about $53 per family. The well will last as a clean water source for years to come.