The other day while I was surfing the internet hunting for information on the world water day celebrated on 22nd of march every year, I was trying to establish a link between the international concern over water and the status of water related issues in the Indian context.
Voluntary agencies around the world are working in the area of water resources management, hygiene promotion, and conservation of water through water being one the components of the projects, or exclusive projects focused on water, hygiene and sanitation promotion.
Activities and interventions on water can be classified into two major sub-categories, the hardware and software activities.
The hardware part of water related activities constitutes of largely community based interventions and individual household based initiatives. The community based interventions relate to the large-medium scale construction works ranging from construction of watersheds, check dams, gully plugs, farm bunding, boulder checks and so on. All these activities largely contribute to the interventions to promote the agricultural well-being within a community.
Further coming to the house hold or individual level interventions that constitute of household toilets, deepening of wells, soak pits, compost pits, kitchen gardens, washing and bathing platforms, basically focus on upliftment in the health status within a community through water management and hygiene promotion.
On the contrary, the need of the hour is to sensitize the communities on the issue of the crucial importance of water, hygiene and sanitation in an individual’s life.
Over the time, it has been observed that there are a lot of discussions done on the conservation and effective treatment of water, but what percentage of this do we really implement.
Water is a major contributor in the well being of a family. Focusing on health, water born diseases are the easiest to find and the hardest to manage, as perceived by the general audiences, but in reality, there are just some basic things to be kept in mind that will in turn decrease the health hazards due to contamination of water to a significant percentage. Most of the water born diseases are a result of unhealthy and unsafe disposal of water. A small amount of water collected at the road side, may result in a massive threat to the life. Consuming water from sources that have unhygienic surroundings make way for the diseases to enter your body, through the consumption of contaminated water.
In the rural part of India, use of toilets is not popular due to innumerous reasons. One of which could be preference given to open defecation due to the economic inconvenience of the family in getting a toilet constructed or the uneasiness in managing the toilets. But it is about time that we realize that a small amount of investment that is just once in life time, and a small effort put in to manage the toilets will safeguard our children and families from diseases for the rest of our lives. Till when are we going to see our mothers, and sisters waiting for the night and wandering in search of a lonely place to defecate?
We need to understand that behavioral change in the context of water would bring a major upliftment in the health and economic status of our communities. All we need to do is:
Use less water for more work.
Discourage open defecation and promote the use of toilets.
Use hygienic means of storing and consuming water.
Make sure that our water sources have hygienic surroundings.
Incorporate hygienic habits in our day to day life.
Don’t allow water to stand at a location for long time.
Re-use the water where ever possible.