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Gram Vikas presents on community-led water quality management at the Jal Jeevan Mission workshop

NEWS

By GV News Desk

20 November 2022

Gram Vikas participated in the one-day Andhra Pradesh Jal Jeevan Mission state-level workshop on ‘Water Quality Monitoring & Surveillance (WQM&S)’ in Vijayawada on 16 November 2022. Vijayavahini Charitable Foundation supported by TATA TRUSTS in collaboration with the State Water and Sanitation Mission (SW&SM), Rural Water Supply and Sanitation department, Government of Andhra Pradesh, organised the event.

The workshop brought together state-level stakeholders to discuss their experiences and challenges in implementing Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance (WQM&S) and Grey Water Management. With participation from UNICEF, Water Aid India, INREM Foundation and other nonprofits, and multilateral and network organisations, the event discussed ways to evolve a sustainable plan for WQM&S.

Varun Namineni from Gram Vikas emphasised the need to build community capabilities to establish sustainable Water Quality Surveillance and Management Systems at the village level, “Capacity building of communities ensures village-level management and monitoring of water quality. Gram Vikas trains Village Institution Service Provider (VISP), a local cadre selected by the Village Development Committee (VDC), on aspects of water quality.”

Community-led WQM&S

Currently, 488 VISPs are part of the Water Quality Surveillance and Management Systems across Gram Vikas partners villages in eight districts in Odisha.

The VISP is the community safe water expert in the village who ensures water quality monitoring twice a year. Gram Vikas provides technical support to the VISP.

“VISPs undertake periodic water quality testing, regular monitoring of village and household-level cleanliness, mobilise communities for cleanliness drives, advise them on keeping water safe, and sensitise them on safe water behaviours,” said Varun on the critical roles of VISP.

Sanitary surveys in the villages help assess the faults in the water systems and causes of water contamination. The VISPs share the water quality monitoring results with the community and encourage actions to make water safe.

Communities clean the overhead water tank, repair the water sources or distribution channels, practice new behaviours and adopt solid and liquid waste management.

Challenges in WQM&S implementation

Varun said that the village-level implementation of WQM&S is challenging, as few treatment solutions are available in the villages where we work. He said, “Practical solutions are hard to come by in habitations with hilly terrains, low population density, intermittent or no electricity access and low incomes. Many available treatment solutions cannot be maintained, repaired, or sustained without significant external assistance.”

Elaborating further on the challenges, he said, “Water quality has less value as an issue since people have been consuming the same water for several years. Information on water quality does not reach the communities and they have inadequate access to field test kits.”

Way forward

Varun shared ways to address the challenges in ensuring sustainable WQM&S, “There need to be continuous efforts towards awareness building and behaviour changes. We have to identify technologies suitable to the local contexts. Convergence with local governments can enable access to field test kits, solid-liquid waste management infrastructure and treatment options. Building capacities of local experts to work with the communities, government, and other stakeholders is key to sustainability,”

Water quality surveillance and management is a part of Gram Vikas’ Water Secure Gram Panchayat (WSGP) Programme. The program aims to enable community-led water resource management and resilient, sustainable, and gender-equitable institutions contributing to improved health and economic outcomes for rural households.

Gram Vikas is an Implementing Support Agency (ISA) and a Key Resource Centre (KRC) in Odisha for the Jal Jeevan Mission. As an ISA, we support 7769 villages in Odisha to design Village Action Plans to ensure community-owned and managed Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC).

The state-level workshop on 'Water Quality Monitoring & Surveillance (WQM&S)' in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.

Photograph shared by Varun Namineni

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