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A newly acquired skill of a cadre that guarantees safe water to the entire community

Story

By Sangita Patra, Chandrika Patnaik

1 July 2021

Tapan being a farmer, is also a trained cadre for water quality monitoring in his village Sialijoda who ensures clean and safe water to every household.

Tapan Kumar Mohanta doing the water quality test in his village Sialijoda, Keonjhar district.

Photograph by Deepak Mohanty

Tapan Kumar Mohanta has a new skill which he uses to get quality water to his village, Sialijoda. He is one of the 28 Water Quality Monitoring (WQM) cadres for his village in Keonjhar district of Odisha.

Tapan is a 37-year-old male whose main livelihood is farming. His family is into farming rice and seasonal vegetables. He was selected as a WQM cadre (Water Quality Management) by the community. Tapan received training on Water Quality testing and management in the year 2019 in Mohuda, Gram Vikas. During training, he learnt about the presence of contaminants like nitrate, fluoride, and bacteria. He had never thought that these could be so easily learnt and performed. He was earlier under the impression that “testing of water” involves a lot of science and only highly qualified and trained professionals can handle the task. Tapan recollects, “I learnt about the presence of contaminants like nitrate, fluoride, and bacteria in water and how the quality of water directly affects our health and overall well-being. First-hand knowledge of testing procedures makes us responsible and vigilant at all times.”

The Piped Water Supply system was established in his village, Sialijoda, in the year 2009 and since then the community has been cleaning the water tank twice a year as part of maintaining the water quality. The community never thought that there could be other measures which could be adopted at community level for monitoring the quality of water.

Tapan is keen to explain what he does, “I test water from the source (borewell), overhead water tank, and a functional tap in the household.” He adds a testing reagent to the water collected in a test tube, “In 10 minutes, we will get to know the nitrate content in the water by the change of colour. I will mark the colour closest to the one in the report after that.”

Tapan does all this so that his community gets water free from all contaminants. Even though he is not being paid for this task, he shows high level of motivation and he himself has mobilised two more individuals from the community – Sanjay Kumar Mohanta and Subash Chandra Mohanta and has trained them on techniques of water testing. In October 2020, while doing routine water quality testing, the results showed the presence of bacteria. The sanitary survey revealed unclean water tank and leakage in pipeline. The cost estimated for pipeline repair was around INR 2000.00 which was sanctioned from the Village Development Committee fund. After repair, the water was tested again and results showed the water was clear from bacteria.

Sialijoda’s Village Development Committee Member, Khirod Chandra Mohanta could not agree more, “Recently, the nitrate testing done by Tapan indicates no traces of nitrate contaminant present in our water. It took just a few minutes to confirm the quality. Next, he will test the water for fluoride and bacteria. The training imparted to him is highly beneficial. The best thing is, Tapan belongs to our village and he can test the water periodically.”

Biranchi, a water quality management cadre showing the water quality test result.

Photograph by Gourav Mohapatra

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Gaurab Mohapatra and Deepak Kumar Mohanty supported in writing this story. Ganesh Chakravarthi edited the story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sangita Patra is Thematic Manager for Documentation and Communications, and Chandrika Patnaik leads on content production within the Communications team at Gram Vikas.

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