Using edutainment to create awareness about water conservation locally


By GV News Desk

16 August 2023

Basudha Raths use digital screens to show captivating educational videos and songs produced in the local languages of Saura and Kui to communicate with the Adivasi communities in the villages they visit. The active involvement and support of village Sarpanchs and Panchayat members have played a crucial role in facilitating the seamless movement of these vans through these areas, overcoming any potential obstacles along the way.

The highlight of Basudha Rath screenings includes an entertaining play and songs that emphasise the importance of maintaining a clean environment, community-owned household piped water supply, toilets, sanitation and hygiene practices, wastewater management and solid waste management.

Additionally, the Basudha Rath provides Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials in Odia as leaflets to residents proficient in reading the Odia language.

This approach ensures better engagement and understanding among the local population, contributing to the initiative’s success.

Gram Vikas aims to intensify awareness efforts in remote villages that face challenges like limited access to electricity or network connectivity. The campaign is determined to reach a broader audience and raise awareness among marginalised communities about the importance of safe water and sanitation.

Shifting behaviours at the grassroots

Many residents approached the travelling cadres accompanying Basudha Rath and expressed their delight in gaining newfound knowledge and awareness about various processes related to water and sanitation. They were determined to apply these learnings to initiate development work within their villages, showing their commitment to positive change and progress.

Rudra Narayan Behera, a community cadre who accompanied the Basudha Rath to Budaguda Panchayat in the Baliguda block of Kandhamal district, reported that after watching the video, people expressed their gratitude for learning about the community-managed water and sanitation system for the first time. Before viewing the video, they had been unaware of such a system’s existence.

According to the feedback received, the residents expressed that by coming together as a community, each household in a village could have access to safe drinking water through a tap and proper toilet and bathroom facilities. They realised the value of not wasting water and the need to preserve it as a precious and finite resource. They were particularly intrigued by the innovative approach of utilising wastewater to water plants in their backyard kitchen gardens.

Residents also expressed their grievances, including their inability to pay electricity bills, leading to the water taps running dry and their disappointment with piped water supply system and the contractors assigned to these projects. These concerns highlight the need for improved coordination and sustainable solutions to ensure uninterrupted access to safe drinking water for these communities. Many felt that establishing a robust Village Development Committee (VDC) dedicated to managing the integrated water and sanitation system was crucial to achieving this.

Kadita Pradhan,23, serving as the Niab Sarpanch of Ghumikia Panchayat in the Daringbadi Block of Kandhamal district, comes from Patamaha village. She sheds light on the severe water scarcity that plagues their Panchayat, lasting for about 9 to 10 months during the dry periods.

Since the Basudha van visited her Panchayat in June 2023, discussions on water and sanitation have ignited among the residents. Kadita explains, “Most of the 17 villages in our Panchayat face severe water shortages. Our ‘chuan’ or dug wells mostly yield muddy water. Six months ago, Community Resource Person (CRP) conducted a water quality test in our village and found the water unfit for drinking. During the dry seasons, the water levels in the dug wells and chuans drop significantly, leaving us nothing but mud. We desperately need an integrated water and sanitation system in our villages, like the one explained in the video.”

Kichaka Digal, aged 26 and Kadita’s husband, was greatly inspired by the play featured in the video. He shares, “I have witnessed the practical implementation of what they showed in the video in a village called Partamaha in the Baliguda block. Gram Vikas’ intervention there has been exactly as depicted in the video. I visited someone I know in that village, located 30 kilometres away from here, and I can attest to its authenticity. The residents there are content and lead comfortable lives, thanks to easy access to safe water through taps. They ingeniously use kitchen wastewater to grow vegetables in their backyards. As a result, women no longer have to spend time fetching water, enabling them to focus on caring for their homes and engaging in agriculture, which brings in extra income. I wonder if Gram Vikas can also help us in getting an integrated water and sanitation system for all 17 villages in our Ghumukia Panchayat.”

Vikas Kumar Pati, the Executive Engineer of Rural Water Supply System (RWSS) in the Division Office of Gajapati district, shared his experience after attending a Basudha Rath video screening in a village within Keshariguda Panchayat.

He remarked, “Observing the villagers engrossed in the video was truly captivating, and it was heartening to see them enjoying the lighter moments in the play. This engaging approach effectively entertained them while addressing crucial issues they face in their daily lives.” Furthermore, he added, “Watching the video gave me valuable insights into managing and utilising wastewater instead of letting it go to waste. It was an enlightening experience, and I found the video’s message to be truly impactful.”

Sandhu Mandal, the Sarpanch of Khajuripada Panchayat in Nuagarh block, in the Gajapati district, was full of praise for the video screening that took place in April this year. He described it as a remarkable event that entertained the residents and delivered a powerful message.

Of the 15 villages within Khajuripada Panchayat, the Basudha Rath successfully visited six villages: Khajuripada, Anusahi, Kudusahi, Tarangada, Murising, and Kindor. Unfortunately, the remaining villages were inaccessible, preventing the Rath from reaching those villages.

The Sarpanch shared the positive impact of the video on women in particular. He said, “After the video screening, several women approached me expressing their strong desire to implement a water and sanitation system in their village. For the first time, they saw a glimmer of hope in resolving their water-related challenges. Furthermore, these women had toilets constructed under the Swachh Bharat program three to four years ago, but the toilets remained unusable due to poor construction by contractors. The video enlightened us all about the vital role of water in the context of toilet usage. It made us question why someone should use a toilet if they still have to travel a considerable distance to fetch water?”

Plans and travels ahead

According to Manoj Kumar Sethi, aged 55 and the Sarpanch of Talapada Panchayat, he firmly believes that after everyone in his Panchayat watches the video in the upcoming days, wasteful water practices will become a thing of the past.

He shared, “This video has taught us the true value of every single drop of water. In the villages under my Panchayat, residents endure severe water shortages during the dry months as borewells run dry and handpumps yield very little water. Even the water supply through standpoints for every 20-25 households is insufficient. The integrated water and sanitation system showcased in the video is an ideal solution. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Gram Vikas for bringing the Basudha Rath to Talapada Panchayat. With the cooperation of all residents in the four villages under the Panchayat, we hope positive changes will unfold in the coming months.”

In the Talapada Panchayat, Madhav Chandra Sahu, aged 40 and the President of Talapada VDC, expressed his profound appreciation for the video, considering it an eye-opening experience for the entire village, while highlighting the positive impact on the women in the village who were delighted to learn about these vital water and sanitation practices.

Acknowledgement: Trilochan Jena, Rudra Narayan Behera, and Shatrughna Behera helped collect data for the story.

Basudha Rath flag off to cover Rangeilunda block in Ganjam district.

Photograph by Manas Samanta


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