Tribal girls as ambassadors of wise water management in Madhya Pradesh
By Anil GulatiDhar, January 15, 2007: Pinky Bhanwar, Hema Daval and Shobha are members of a water safety and hygiene club formed in the girls’ hostel of Tirla, District Dhar, in the tribal southern part of Madhya Pradesh.
Already a drought prone area, the Dhar district suffers from severe water scarcity from January to June every year. Global climate change seems to have caught up with this forgotten land as the dry spell seems to grow longer and more intense every year.
Due to the lack of water, Pinky and her friends spent up to 3 hours day collecting and arranging for water. As a result, they were lagging behind for their crucial exams in March and April.
Now, in their school, UNICEF and its partners have implemented “wise-water management” activities which include the harvesting of rainwater, recycling of greywater, pumping of water using a roundabout pump and dilution of fluoride contaminated water. This is all monitored by the water safety club using a water safety plan.
Kavita, another member of the club feels elated when talking about the about the play pump in her hostel. ‘My hostel has a UNICEF play pump. It not only lifts water but we love playing with it’. Play pumps pump up water without the aid of electricity to overhead tanks. Students at the hostel monitor water levels regularly and maintain its record.
In previous years, the girls spent more time fetching water than in learning. This year, water is available in plenty due to the wise-water management programme.
One could see the excitement in the faces of the children as they describe the impact of wise-water management. 'We will have to recycle more and use it more effectively' said one girl who was measuring the level.
Vasudha Vikas Sansthan
Vasudha Vikas Sansthan, an NGO with technical support from UNICEF, Public Health Engineering and Tribal Welfare Department introduced technical innovations to the district of Dhar in March 2005.
At present it benefits 22 schools in the districts. It also aims to use technical innovations in areas of grey water re-use for sanitation to benefit children in the tribal schools; use of rainwater harvesting and promoting simple methods to create awareness on issue of fluorosis, explains Dr Samuel Godfrey Project officer of Water and Environmental Sanitation in UNICEF Office for Madhya Pradesh.
Hamid El Bashir, State Representative, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh while appreciating the efforts of children said that UNICEF remains committed to the statewide scaling up of wisewater management as a means of reducing water scarcity and also to help mitigate fluorosis.
As an impetus to this growing movement among children, a series of events and competition were organised in the districts, which provided an opportunity to showcase their talents and hone their skills.
Lizette Burgers, Chief of Water and Environmental Sanitation in UNICEF said “ this is a great example of engaging children and young people in bringing about positive change within communities.” The children, she said, have become ambassadors for wise-water management
More than two hundred children from across the district participated and by way of songs, plays and dramas presented their thoughts on the theme. In the evening District Collector R K Gupta participated in the children convention, encouraged them and distributed prizes to the winners and the participants. The children pledged to take the message of safe water and sanitation to the villages across the district.