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Oxfam India Builds Water Solution in Disaster Prone Areas
Naureen Khan / Oxfam India
In India, over one lakh people die of water-borne diseases annually. Our country faces a huge challenge in ensuring safe water supply, especially during floods. Lakhs of people last year were forced to use contaminated water for drinking or sanitation during floods causing health problems.
In Odisha, more than 90% of rural population depends on groundwater for drinking and domestic purposes and the groundwater is mainly contaminated with iron, fluoride, chloride and salinity (in coastal districts). Due to this most of the hand pumps in the rural areas became non-operational during floods and clean drinking water became unavailable for a very long period of time. During this time communities are forced to access water from ponds and river which has bacterial contamination.
Oxfam India has implemented Disaster Risk Reduction programme in flood-prone districts in Odisha. The programme focusses on building local capacities to anticipate and prepare for natural disasters and improve the water sanitation and hygiene conditions before, during and after emergencies. The focus was to build low cost, water filtration and sanitation models to make flood resilient communities. 10 iron removal plants powered by solar energy was installed in 10 villages to ensure that potable water is available during disasters. The initiative has ensured continuous access to safe drinking water for at least 817 household and more than 4,500 people in 10 villages.
In all the villages the Village Disaster Management Committee (VDMC) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) committees played a major role by participating in the planning and maintenance of the water sources. In some areas, the communities provided labour cost and some material cost as well. In order to ensure sustainability of the process, Oxfam India built capacities of local institutions and village-based committees. The objective was to ensure that the communities are self-dependent in managing their water resources without external help or with minimal external help during emergencies.
By the end of this project, VDMC and WASH committees will have the skills and knowledge to construct community-based water filtration units, disinfect and maintain drinking water sources and use appropriate methods of water storage and handling. Secondly, Oxfam India also ensured that only locally available resources are being used for the construction of filtration units. This way the local communities will have access to required material and resources for any construction after the implementing agencies have exited. At Oxfam India, we promote low-cost technologies which can be easily replicated through nominal community contribution at the village level. Last year, Oxfam India helped over one lakh people recover during and after disasters in India.
Edited by Naureen Khan, Oxfam India
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