Defying odds: Women strive and achieve access to water for all


By GV News Desk

4 December 2023

The reality of having a household toilet and bathing room equipped with running water is now present in every home within the Phirkinali village of Chandaka Panchayat. A total of 78 families residing in this village now enjoy the convenience of 24X7 running water supplied through taps in their homes, all thanks to a 30,000-liter overhead water tank.

This transformation is the result of the collaborative efforts between Gram Vikas and Wipro Cares, who jointly implemented the ‘Water Secure Initiative.’ The initiative was executed across six villages in the Gram Panchayats of Chandaka and Daruthenga, both within the Chandaka region on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. The primary focus of the project is ensuring access to water, fostering improved WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) behaviour and the sustainability of water sources.

The overarching goal of the project is to extend the provision of water through taps to cover all 470 households across the six villages involved in the initiative.

On November 30, 2023, Shri Biranchi Banara, President of the Phirkinali Village Development Committee, in a ceremony, inaugurated the overhead water tank within the village.

In his address, he underscored the important role played by the women in the village in establishing the pipe water supply and sanitation infrastructure. He expressed, “If the residents take pride and bear witness to the current developmental strides in our village, the credit must be attributed to the resolute women who turned our dreams into reality.”

Shri Abhaya Kumar Biswal, Retired Engineer-in-Chief of Rural Pipewater Supply & Sanitation in Odisha and the Guest of Honour on the occasion, discussed how Gram Vikas has been transforming people’s lives through the implementation of an integrated water and sanitation programme. In this initiative, village communities collaborate to construct toilets, bathing rooms, and a piped water supply system featuring three taps to ensure safe water access for every household. He acclaimed this approach as the most effective model he has encountered, emphasising its success over the past forty years in numerous villages.

Ramkishan Singh, Programme Manager at Wipro Foundation, praised the leadership of the women’s self-help groups and acknowledged their significant contributions, which have positively shaped the way people in their village live. He expressed his satisfaction that the residents provided an opportunity for Wipro Cares to collaborate with them, making water easily accessible to every family in the village. Singh expressed his hope that the villagers will take responsibility for the proper care and maintenance of the infrastructure to ensure its long-lasting impact.

Shri Abhay Kumar Behera, Sarpanch of Chandaka Panchayat, addressed the occasion and praised the residents, with special recognition for the members of the four self-help groups from the village, who took the initiative by reaching out to Gram Vikas in September 2022, seeking assistance in constructing toilets, bathing rooms, and establishing a piped water supply system for all households in the village.

Liby Johnson, Executive Director of Gram Vikas, shared insights on the occasion, revealing his lack of awareness about habitations in the periphery of Bhubaneshwar until Cyclone Fani struck Odisha in May 2019, severely affecting Khorda among the 14 severely-affected districts. In the aftermath, more than 75% of the houses, constructed with thatch and mud in Phirkinali, were completely destroyed. Subsequently, Gram Vikas initiated collaboration with women’s self-help groups in the six villages to establish sustainable livelihoods. He highlighted that Gram Vikas’ piped water and sanitation programme not only ensures convenient access to water at home and improves sanitation practices adopted by the residents but also contributes to enabling women, girls, and the elderly to lead a life of dignity.

Speaking on the occasion, Pritimanjari Singh, 45, Vice-President of the VDC and a member of Maa Binapat SHG in the village, extended a warm welcome to the guests and expressed gratitude for inaugurating the overhead water tank. Kuntala Palia, 32, a member of Maa Kateni SHG in the village, provided insights into the village’s history. Originally from the Mayurbhanj district, residents came to settle in the village in 1968, when only three families inhabited Phirkinali. While some of the initial settlers chose to return to Mayurbhanj due to their reluctance to live near the dense forest area, some others decided to stay back.

To discover how Phirkinali established its water and sanitation infrastructure, explore this inspiring tale about how the women in the village united to make it happen: https://shorturl.at/gDJX0

Data collected by Santosh Kumar Rout, Sasmita Jena. Photographs by Santosh Kumar Rout. 

The inaugural ceremony in Phirkinali village.

Photograph by Santosh Rout


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