Water for all: Leading the Change

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Indira Camp is a notified slum located in the south eastern part of Delhi. The slum is home to 100 odd families who have been residing here for close to thirty years. The primary occupation of the residents here is daily wage work such as construction laborers, rickshaw pullers, vegetable vendors, taxi drivers and domestic helpers.

While the slum inmates have attained some level of education, especially the younger generation enrolled in schools and colleges, the major struggle had been with access to availing clean drinking water since there was no source. The people travelled close to 3 to 4 kilometers each day to fetch water from a leakage in the pipeline by the Delhi Jal Board, while some would buy bottled water each day. The community’s knowledge on handling of water was also poor, giving rise to frequent bouts of diarrhea, typhoid and other water borne diseases.

In 2019, WaterAid India and EFRAH with support from H & M Foundation began working at Indira Kalyan Camp. They identified strong and vocal women, who could take forward the task of mobilizing people and organizing them for collective action towards water access.

One of the leaders, Shafina Begum, 36 years old began to slowly form a women’s collective in the slum. The collective would meet every month, wherein Shafina would talk to them about key hygiene behaviors on use of toilet, safe handling of water, handwashing, food hygiene as well as menstrual hygiene management which she had learnt through EFRAH’s community mobilizer. She also tied up with the area’s ASHA and Anganwadi workers along with EFRAH field team to train Anganwadi workers on key hygiene messages. This was done to further promote hygiene practices amongst children as well as adolescent girls.

Along with support from EFRAH, the members of the women’s collective approached the officials from Delhi Jal Board to demand for a water tanker in their area. With support from H & M, WaterAid India conducted a detailed baseline survey to assess the WASH needs of the area. The women collective members helped in discussing the gaps and proposed a solution to address the water woes. A piped water distribution system was planned and executed in early January 2020.

An overhead tank with the capacity of 5000 litres was installed here which was connected to various standposts through a piped network.

Today the community has access to safe drinking water right outside their homes. Shafina, along with other members of the collective ensure the collection of funds, Rs. 20 per household every month, for operation and maintenance of this water hardware.

Not only do the people have access to safe drinking water now, but they save a lot of time which was otherwise consumed in fetching water every day. Meanwhile, handwashing has gained more popularity with the children, while the youth, who were recently trained on water quality testing, are excited to test the drinking water using the new field test kits (FTKs) made available to them by WaterAid India.