Ann-Christin Sjölander

Vårt värdefulla vatten

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The daughters do not have to carry water

18 april, 2012 · Inga kommentarer

They had been slaves to the “idani” all their life and promised to rid their daughters of the same fate. Finally at least five of the women got a water-harvesting tank in their homes in Rajasthan in India.

An idani is a small ring used to stabilise a large urn of water on a woman’s head. The women lives in the village of Rampura with a water pond located three kilometres from the village. In the summer the pond dries up. They have to walk six kilometres to fetch water.
Finally ten women from the village got together, opened a bank account and contacted JBF, Jal Bhagirathi Foundation. JBF is supporting water distressed rural communities in 350 villages of the Thar Desert to create water security in the dry and arid region of western Rajastahn.
The women pursued their goal for 12 months. Now five of them have got underground water harvesting tanks in their homes. They have ensured that their daughters are freed from the burden of idanis. The rest still have to headload their water.

Kanupriya Harish from JBF gives me this information in Marseille, where she is standing in the exhibition hall of the 6th world water forum. She is eager to present the results to anyone who happens to pass by and it is a moving story when she tells about the conditions in the western Rajasthan.
– The inhabitants do not have a glass of fresh water. Our foundation is working in the most densely populated desert in the world.
While most deserts have 3 – 4 inhabitants per square kilometre the region of Marwar in Rajahstan, where the village Rampura is situated, has up to 90 people per square kilometre.
The groundwater is extremely saline, nearly equivalent to seawater. There is no water from the surface rivers. The only water the inhabitants can use is the rainwater.
– We use the traditional knowledge of harvesting water. We are getting communities together to revive what they already knew and have been doing for centuries.

– Most important is to get the women engaged in the process and create water users associations.
Community mobilazation and empowerment have been essential and now there are community institutions with more than 10 000 volonteers.
Inexpensive tradtional technology.
It only rains from July to September. If the inhabitants are able to harvest the 200 mm of rainfall they are able to create drinking water security, which is 40 – 60 litres a day.
They reuse the water.
– A woman lets her child have a bath in a large span and then she uses the water to clean, to feed the animals and to water the trees.
The Foundation have improved the water structure in 300 villages and has also encourages construction of toilets.

– To have proper sanitation is to give dignity to the women. Without toilets they have to defecate outside and this is also a mayor source of pollution, Kanupriya Harish explains.
But it can be problems to introduce something new. One of the women in the community had a son that suffered from diarrhoea and thought that an evil spirit had engulfed the boy’s body. Then she went to a meeting, where she got to know that the diarrhoea was caused of contaminated water. She learnt the importance of using toilets but had to convince her husband. He thought that a toilet at home would pollute the house. Finally he was convinced. The family now has a toilet and the woman is encouraging other women to construct toilets.
The shortage of water is so severe that you only can grow things like millet from July to September. The inhabitants store it because every forth year there is a draft. They have livestock and get milk from the cows.
In October when the harvest and monsoon is over the men migrate. Due to economic hardship they go to other states and work in agriculture and mining. Old men, women and children are left in the village until April.
According to Kanupriya Harish the family structure is very strong.
– Even if the men are away relatives manage to keep the family together, she says convincingly.

Facts: JBF, Jal Bhagirathi Foundation, was established as a Trust 2002. It supports social mobilisation efforts, attempts to ensure women’s empowerment and advocates community’s rights over common property resources. The work of the Foundation, supported by UNDP, EU, and other multilateral donors, have created 3 billion of additional drinking water capacity in 350 villages benefiting 300 000 people and 900 000 livestock.

Etiketter: All about water

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