WASH and Water Security

Welthungerhilfe India, Nepal, Bangladesh

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Key Facts

Nearly 76 million

people in India don't have access to safe water (Source: WaterAid, UNICEF)

Over 770 million

people don't have access to adequate sanitation in India (Source: WaterAid, UNICEF)

Over 140,000 children

die every year from Diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in India (Source: WaterAid, UNICEF)

Home to about a quarter of the global population, South Asia faces severe water challenges. Rapid population growth, pollution and unplanned urbanization have hugely affected water availability in the region, which is also known for being highly susceptible to floods, droughts, and climate change related disasters.

India has more people in rural areas–63.4 million–living without access to clean water than any other country, according to State of the World’s Water 2017 report by WaterAid. 67 percent of Indian households do not treat their drinking water, even though it could be chemically or bacterially contaminated. Over 50 per cent of the population defecates in the open. Inadequate water supply and sanitation in schools are health hazards and affect school attendance, retention and educational performance. Adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to dropping out, as many are reluctant to continue their schooling because toilet facilities are not private, not safe or simply not available. Women and girls face shame and a loss of personal dignity and safety risk if there is no toilet at home. The lack of adequate sanitation and safe water has significant negative health impacts.

Reasons for the poor WASH condition in India include low priority accorded to sanitation, lack of felt need, lack of funds to construct toilets, water scarcity, and lack of access to government schemes due to illiteracy and corruption.

Our Work

Realizing the urgency of the issue, we work to improve water security, and sanitation and hygiene amongst marginalized communities in India. Through our WASH initiatives we seek to address water management problems at the local level, while strategically influencing policies at a higher level. Strong institutional mechanisms, community ownership and management, maintenance, repair, clearing encroachments, management of resources, and equitable distribution of water resources and enhanced access to entitlements from Government schemes are core features of the project. WASH is also integrated with other thematic areas of Welthungerhilfe to ensure improved nutrition.

With a larger aim to reduce poverty, we work to improve water management practices, particularly among small and marginalized farmers and disadvantaged population. Through our Integrated Water Management Project (IWRM) initiatives, we work to enhance institutionalised processes and mechanisms for community managed water resources and revive traditional water harvesting structures. In our intervention areas, we have introduced soil and water conservation using traditional practices and modern technology, micro irrigation models supporting usage of water efficiently, and trainings to community members on water testing and analysis as well as hand pump repair and maintenance. Multi-stakeholder linkages with Government and Non-Government agencies have been created and CBOs are capacitated to ensure the changes brought through these initiatives are sustainable.