Rural Water Supply and Sanitation
Extending basic amenities including Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation are areas of main concern, to the organisation. The goal of the organisation in this regard, is to increase the access of the rural population, particularly the poor and socially disadvantaged groups, to drinking water supply and environmental sanitation services. Investments by the government in the past, have traditionally focused on extending coverage to the rural population without ensuring the quality of those services. Today, Public rural water supply services, clearly, do not adequately serve the needs of their user communities. They are typically poorly designed and constructed, and are often, designed and positioned at sites without having taken into consideration a community’s needs or preferences. The planning of Rural Water Supply schemes also takes place, without due attention being paid towards the resource availability or quality regarding the same, and are rarely financially viable; resulting in a government-dominated and target-driven service that has become unsustainable institutionally, financially, and environmentally. The planning has been supply driven, without a demand-based perspective, and the scheme’s operations have rarely satisfied the end users, especially the marginalized sections, who depend on “street-taps”.
The Government of India has now recognized the need to improve the functionality and sustainability of the above mentioned sector, and has taken some bold initiatives in launching significant sectoral reforms, by ensuring community participation and community ownership, within this sector. The GOI has made a strategic shift from a supply driven, to a demand driven approach. NGO participation in the sector, has also been a result of that sectoral reformation.
The WHI has rendered implementation-oriented support to Community based Water Supply Programs in the State Viz; the Jalanidhi, Swajaldhara, and Varsha projects.
The Jalanidhi Project
The Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency selected the WHI, as the support organisation for the implementation of “Jalanidhi” – a community based water supply and sanitation project aided by the World Bank. The WHI implemented the project in Pothukal, a backward Panchayat based in the Malappuram District, between the years of 2004 and 2007. Under the Jalanidhi project in the Pothukal Grama Panchayat, twenty-four water supply schemes are owned and operated by the community. The planning and implementation of those water supply schemes with the full fledged participation of the beneficiary community, has changed the developmental concept of the newly constituted Grama Panchayat. The schemes are now effectively serving the beneficiary communities, by operating at those locations, at better service levels. Seventeen single BG projects, 6 multi BG schemes, a KWA rehabilitation and a comprehensive scheme have been implemented under the project to serve the 2552 beneficiary households that comprise of a total population of 14,322. The majority of those populations are marginal farmers and agricultural labourers.
Pothukal model of Sanitation
In addition to the water supply schemes, the project supported construction of two pit sanitary latrines in the house holds below the poverty line to address the environmental hygiene issues. Under WHI’s technical and community mobilisation support Pothukal became the first total sanitation village in Kerala, with fully operational toilets in all the households. Total 1333 two pit latrines were constructed under the project and 1913 deep pit latrine were converted to sanitary latrines. 1528 Soak pits, 2165 Compost pits and 799 meters of drainages were constructed as part of the organization’s endeavour to make the village a hygienic arc.
Kulathur – A Success Story in Community based Water Supply Programme
In the scaling up batch of Jalanidhi Project organisation functioned as the supporting organisation for project implementation in Kulathur panchayat, a coastal village situated in the southern most end of the state in Thiruvananthapuram District. The village especially the coastal belt has been reeling under severe water shortage and water quality issues. Now after the completion of the Project 56 mini water supply schemes owned and operated by the community groups are catering safe drinking water to 2188 house holds.