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Initiating Community Action on Water and Sanitation

Location: Patna

The scarcity of safe drinking water in the marginalized communities of Bihar is a social and economic issue as well as a major health problem. Lack of access among the deprived populations is compounded by the prevalent belief that sanitation measures are irrelevant for them, and that having an inside toilet undermines the dignity of the home. Sponsored by WaterAid, IDF developed a seven-year project in two phases, targeting 31 villages, to overcome these deep-rooted barriers and effectively educate the villagers about the dramatic and lasting benefits of clean water and sanitation.

After facilitating the formation of village water and sanitation committees (VWSCs), IDF trained key personnel in awareness of adequate sanitation, hygiene, and treatment of diarrhea. VWSC members in turn then communicated the project's core message to the entire population through community-organized cleanliness campaigns, wall writings, and street shows.

Following the introduction of toilets and clean drinking water, health improved in all the target villages, with significant reductions in cases of diarrhea, reproductive tract infections, and other illnesses. Moreover, with indoor toilets now nearby and the average distance to clean water only 500 meters instead of 2 to 3 kilometers, women and children no longer had to risk snake and scorpion bites by going to the fields, and were even able to earn money in the time previously devoted to the laborious task of collecting water from far away. Above all, the community as a whole became sensitized to the importance of maintaining clean water and sanitation and committed to ensuring the future delivery of adequate facilities by the government.

Click here for the project report (pdf).

IDF-installed hand pump platform prevents contamination and assures water quality