News / Asia

    Indian Villagers Look to Sky for Water Supply

    Indian Villagers Look to Sky for Water Supplyi
    X
    October 04, 2013 6:49 PM
    At least 11 percent of the global population does not have access to improved drinking water sources. And although the situation has improved in India, the United Nations says the world's second most populous country still has some 97 million people living without a safe water supply. VOA New Delhi correspondent Aru Pande travels to a village in northern India where residents are turning to ancient water gathering practices.
    Aru Pande
    Turning on a tap to get clean water is not an option for Bilkish Bano.

    The mother of four, like many others villagers in the Mewat district of India’s northern Haryana state, pays up to $20 every two weeks to buy water from a private tanker.
     
    “It’s a big problem for us," Bano said. "Most poor people do not have a choice, even if they can not afford it, they have to buy water for their whole family.”
     
    The United Nations says more than 780 million people worldwide, or 11 percent of the population, do not have access to drinking water sources that are not "improved," or protected from outside contamination. In places like Sub-Saharan Africa, at least 40 percent of people do not have improved drinking water.
     
    India has made some progress. Some 522 million people gaining a safe drinking water supply between 1990 and 2010. Still, the United Nations says the world's second most populous country has about 97 million people living without access to improved water sources. Tens of thousands of villages remain disconnected.

    Harvesting rainwater
     
    Residents in Bano’s village say authorities built a 100,000-liter tank, and the necessary infrastructure, about a decade ago, but they have yet to see a drop of water flow through the pipelines.

    Bano’s house sits just across the road from an area where villagers have dug holes in order to collect water during the hot, dry months that precede monsoon season.
     
    The Gurgaon-based Institute for Rural Research and Development is encouraging villagers to return to traditional rainwater harvesting during the monsoon season.

    In the last three years, the non-governmental organization has helped install pipes, 20,000 liter tanks and filters in at least 15 homes, along with one 100,000 liter tank to serve the needs of the entire community. IRRAD says some 250,000 people in the area are benefiting from collecting and filtering rainwater from their rooftops.
     
    Samedin Khan works with his fellow villagers to install the systems in homes. He gestures to the pipelines as he describes how rainwater harvesting has drastically improved people’s lives.
     
    “They have benefited a lot. During monsoon season, they used to have to buy water. Now for five months [out of the year], they don’t have to buy any water," said Khan. "They use this for drinking, cooking, everything.”

    Traditional ways
     
    IRRAD CEO Jane Schukoske says traditional methods need to be revived to provide low cost, sustainable access to safe water. Especially as scientists warn the majority of the world’s estimated 9 billion people will face severe water shortages within two generations due to climate change and pollution.
     
    “What we see in India is replicated in places around the world," said Schukoske. "People are finding the water tables are getting deeper and there is much more contamination of water.”
     
    The impact of the rainwater harvesting system can be seen at the local school in Mewat district’s village of Khanpur, where teacher Mohammad Sarfuddin says enrollment is up, particularly for girls, who no longer have to walk up to 3 kilometers to get water for their families.
     
    “It’s made a difference,” he said as he looked out over his classroom.  “The children in Mewat are learning and more kids are coming to school. Out of 265 students, some 180 are girls.”
     
    Although they remain keenly aware of the uncertainty associated with the natural water source, the villagers in Mewat district hope they can count on the monsoon rains to refill their tanks each year.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: M Valliappan from: Karaikudi,Tamilnadu,India
    October 06, 2013 11:49 PM
    We loose significant quantity of water during transportation. Normally 15% leakage is allowed as per Standards to maintain water pressure within the distribution systems. There is a misconception in using this allowance. If any leakage happens due to material degradation issues, water management authorities refer this unintentional leakage to the intentional norms. Strictly speaking our country loses huge volume of water through leakages. In turn this leads to contamination since most of the drinking water pipelines have been laid close to the sewer systems. There are many instances of corrosion induced water leakages in India. Water management agencies should implement the necessary protocols for conserving this water and aim for identifying alternate storage mechanisms as well as replenishing the depleted water bodies. Our traditional temple centric water tanks needs to be properly maintained. We can see a large number of such tanks in rural side.

    by: Rajratna Phadtare from: Mumbai,Mharashtra,India
    October 05, 2013 7:53 AM
    Yes true it is. but most of the villages nearby talukas are getting water supply through water connectivity.About 85% villages are having water supply thro overhead tanks and water connectivity but the villages are far away from the Talukas(sub district centers) are dependent on on well water or other sources. Government is implementing various operational methods to supply pure drinking water to villagers.The fact is that the water table is gone far down than required so there is dire need of rain harvesting system to be implemented in every village.The use of water irrigation for grains,vegetable and sugarcane shall be done by drip irrigation system,which the government is promoting/implementing successfully,But still then rain water harvesting is becoming must for every villages and small cities to increase water table.

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