Located in the western part of Delhi, Raghubir Nagar is a thirty-year-old urban poor settlement. According to Anganwadi workers, the settlement houses 1400 families. The whole area comes under the observation of DUSIB (Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board). Since the entire area is a government land, and these families have no legal papers, the Delhi government wants to displace them in the next few years. Most of the community members of the settlement work as daily-wage earners, labourers and domestic workers.
One of the pressing concerns of this area has been water scarcity. Baseline studies and regular on-ground visits have revealed that the community has been experiencing severe water scarcity for the last 30 years. Around 15 years ago, the local people somehow managed to get borewell water for household chores after contacting the MLA. However, the struggle to get clean drinking water continued. People of Raghubir Nagar had to either travel more than two hours to fetch water or purchase it after shelling out fifty to hundred rupees everyday.
In 2019, things changed for the better for people of Raghubir Nagar. WaterAid India and its partner EFRAH, along with the support of non-banking financial company Altico Capital India Ltd., began their intervention with 200 households of Raghubir Nagar.
As a part of the intervention, the community was mobilised to take this forward. Soon, they organised meetings with the area MLA and wrote to him and the Delhi Jal Board. Their constant efforts led to the MLA approving the request and ensuring clean drinking water for the people. Along with the representatives of EFHRA, the community members asked the MLA for a spot of PWD land to build a water tank which is now connected with stand post through piped system.
With the help of the local MLA, Girish Soni (Madipur), WaterAid India and EFRAH availed space to build a water tank on the PWD land and ensured that everyday Delhi Jalboard’s portable tank will also come twice to provide water through the piped water system from the stand post connected with the tanker.
Apart from providing clean drinking water, community mobilisers motivated each household to maintain good hygiene practices, use toilets and clean them regularly ensuring their surroundings are clean as well. The Anganwadi centre provided space to conduct monthly session with adolescence girls and pregnant women on menstrual hygiene management and educate children on the importance of clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene. The community has also learnt the importance of solid and liquid waste management (SLWM). They are now able to segregate the waste before disposal.
However, improving the water, sanitation and hygiene situation in the slum would be difficult without the active involvement of the community members.
For instance, Drishty (14) and Rajeev (18) are representatives of the eight-member youth committee of Raghubir Nagar’s R block. They have been trained on water quality testing using field testing kits and these young WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) champions are also working hard towards creating awareness on relevant WASH aspects in the community.
Additionally, Manju (40) plays a significant role in the development of the community. She always wanted to be a social worker and when she saw the efforts made by WaterAid India and EFRAH, she stepped up. “I am working for this community for the last 20 years. Many NGO have come to talk to me and every time I have taken the initiative of conducting meetings with others, pointed out each and every problem we are suffering in our daily lives. It is now that the issue of water is solved, and we are able to access clean drinking water. Being a former NGO worker, I feel it’s my duty to work for my own community and I will do this for the rest of my life,” shares Manju. A great orator and an empathetic leader, Manju helps the community as they face any challenge in accessing WASH. Her dream is to ensure that her community has proper roads and streetlights to ensure safety for everyone.
As a part of the intervention, two community toilets have also been constructed by the Delhi Municipality Corporation after diligent advocacy efforts with key officials and stakeholders. Moreover, some households have also built personal toilets at home.
Today, the community has access to clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene. With the participation of community members, especially women and youth, sustainable and long-term solutions for the community can now be ensured.