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Kandhabanta village makes contaminated water potable

Story

By Mrunal Patil

30 September 2019

Kandhabanta village led a community initiative to reduce health risk from water-borne diseases and ensure zero wastage of water from the household pipes.

Insulated intake well

Photograph by Mrunal Patil

Kandhabanta, in Jagannath Prasad block of Ganjam district, has had piped water supply to every house in the village for more than 15 years. A natural spring with an intake well around it is one source of water. Pipes carry the water to an overhead tank from where it is distributed to every household. The village also gets water from a borewell pumped into the same tank.

The local staff of Gram Vikas organised a meeting of the Kandhabanta villagers at the site of the intake well. This was to make the villagers aware of drinking water quality. They noticed gaps in the wall of the well with some leaves stuck in them. A bamboo clump, broken by wild elephants that frequent the area, had fallen into the well through the broken well cover. Anyone would notice that the water was not clear.

The water quality tests carried out in the village checked for nitrate, fluoride and bacterial contamination. The results were positive for bacteria. The villagers were taken aback when they were informed of the result in the meeting. They spent time near the intake well to understand how it could have happened and the possible measures to fix it. The villagers decided to repair the broken lid and fill the gaps in the wall so as to insulate it from future contamination. 

The village community needed to come together to give labour and money. Gandhi Jani, President of the VWSC (Village Water Sanitation Committee), educated the community on the ill-effects of continuous consumption of contaminated water. He used a test tube with the muddy water from the well and the examples of people in his village suffering repeatedly from diarrhoea to drive home the point. 

Gandhi Jani explained how a simple initiative at the community level could reduce health risk by water-borne diseases. Once the Gram Vikas staff conducted a few meetings, some VWSC members took on the responsibility of mobilising the community contribution. 

Gandhi Jani not only mobilised the people but also brought seven sacks of cement on loan from a nearby shop. It took three months to mobilise the community and get everyone to clean and repair the intake well. One person from each household contributed labour, and two masons were called from another village.  It took two days to clean the well and to insulate it with cement plaster.

The intake well is a little high on the hills surrounded by a forest. It is about two kilometres from the village.  There is elephant habitation in the area. Many a time, the pachyderms smash the pipeline which connects the well to the water tank. Villagers use the maintenance fund collected every month to repair it. 

During the water quality management project rolled out by Gram Vikas, people brought forth the issue of water wastage due to leaking taps. If there are leaks in almost every tap from the 30 households, that adds up to huge wastage. “As we were undertaking the community-based repairing of the water supply system, we thought that we could also repair the household taps. We took the help of a plumber from Gram Vikas to fix the taps and now none of the taps in the village leak,” says Gandhi Jani. 

Muddy water being pumped out of the intake well in Kandhabanta village.

Photograph by Mrunal Patil

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Sangita Patra supported with the content framework for story collection and story finalisation. She is a member of the Monitoring, Documentation, Communication group at Gram Vikas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mrunal Patil is a Young Management Trainee at Gram Vikas.

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