A five-year-long struggle for safe sanitation is finally over for Kumundia village


By Rahul Thekdi, Chandrika Patnaik

20 July 2020

Government subsidies under the Swachh Bharat Mission, support from charity: water and pooling of village resources are bringing people of Kumundia closer to safe sanitation.

Toilet and bathing rooms in the village Kumundia.

Photograph by Arun Kumar Sahu

Rabi Roita is the President of Gramya Jala O Parimala Committee based in Kumundia village in Odisha’s Gajapati district. Rabi’s village, in Serango Gram Panchayat, faced many problems – insufficient water, high incidence of diarrhoea, skin diseases during monsoons, and no access to toilets and bathrooms. 

Kumundia village’s only water source were the two springs located between hills more than one kilometre from the village. During the monsoon, women and men walked on slippery surfaces and rocks to reach the springs for water. With little water to use at home, most families chose to not construct toilets and bathrooms. Adding to their woes, drain water seeped into the ground, contaminating the groundwater feeding these springs leading to diseases. 

People of Kumundia were well aware of the need for installing toilets and bathrooms (TBRs) in their homes and putting in place a piped water supply system for the village. But most families resisted starting work due to the heavy costs involved. Ignoring his community’s reluctance, Rabi approached Gram Vikas in 2015 for assistance in improving the village water supply infrastructure.

Rabi Roita in front of the under-construction overhead water tank in Kumundia village. Photograph by Arun Kumar Sahu

Rabi visited homes and informed people about the benefits of safe sanitation. After months of conducting awareness drives, the community finally agreed.  People pooled together the money they have and all the 37 households agreed to build individual household toilets and bathrooms. 

Household contributions and funds received under the Swachh Bharat Mission helped complete the construction of TBRs in 2017. Support from charity: water helped to build an overhead water tank by 2019. 

This year, a dug well and a pump house are being constructed. Once those are completed, solar panels fitted on to the pump house will lift the water to the overhead water tank for water supply to each household.

Dug well and the pump house are under-construction.

Photograph by Arun Kumar Sahu


Arun Kumar Sahu, Field Supervisor with Gram Vikas, supported in data collection. Priya Pillai edited the story.


Rahul Thekdi is a communication intern and Chandrika Pattnaik is a Junior Manager at Gram Vikas.


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