“Every day was a juggle between household and aanganwadi work. People had to get water from few public taps which were shared by others. By the time my turn came, sometimes I would get no water or very less water. I also had to ensure water for the aanganwadi which my husband and children helped in getting from homes near the centre. I was always in rush - waiting in line, doing household work and then going to aaganwadi.”
Standing in her blue and pink immaculately pleated saree, Chandrakala (42 years) looked calm and not rushed at all. She has been working in Baradipalya’s Aanganwadi centre for the past ten years, where her days revolved around managing work and availability of water both for her house and the centre. She is now surrounded by few other women who look just as happy and calm as her. These women are all members of the User Group Committee (UGC) formed by Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), WaterAid’s partner in the region, to help in the operation and maintenance of the water supply systems of their households.
The government supplied water directly to Baradipalya through a borewell (1000 ft.) during the scheduled two hours in the morning. The same borewell is used to supply water to a neighbouring village in the evening. The capacity of the pump used for the borewell was not sufficient to draw and supply enough water for all the households. There was a mini supply tank which was in a state of disrepair and hence not used. Existing pipelines and taps to households either did not function or had leaks leading to insufficient supply of water. Only a few households had their own borewells and pipeline connections. 15 households did not get any water at all due to lack of pipeline connectivity which meant an issue of unequal distribution of water in the village. They had to depend on the morning borewell supply or the water tanker which came once in three days and just left there for people to manage which resulted in a lot of fights within the community.
“We did not get sufficient water, so had to get water from somebody else’s private borewell daily. I, along with my children would walk half a kilometre to fetch water whenever there was electricity supply and the borewell could be used. I also had to take my cattle to the borewell to drink water on days when there was insufficient water”
said Rathnamma (38 years), who is also the President of the User Group Committee.
Baradipalya is a hamlet/habitat village with 45 households and situated 12-15km from the town of Nelamangala. Situated a little in the interiors, there are no transportation facilities available in the village. People largely have farms where they grow millets, especially ragi and vegetables for their own consumption. Some grow marigold flowers, while a few had eucalyptus plantations (which have recently been banned due to depleting groundwater table) which helped them earn some income. However, their main sources of livelihood are livestock rearing and selling milk to the cooperatives under Karnataka Milk Federation (Nandini) and working as daily wage labourers in other people’s farms. Agriculture is largely rainfed, while a few shared water from other private borewells.
SVYM accessed the situation on-ground and decided on few immediate measures to ensure 1) sufficient supply of water; 2) all households had functional water connectivity; 3) community participation in maintaining the water supply system in the village. To ensure that sufficient water is being supplied, SVYM provided a new pump with higher capacity and a cable for the government-run borewell. A new three tank (of 3000 litres each) mini supply tank was then set up and pipelines and taps repaired. Houses which did not have any water connection were provided with new pipelines. 30 stand posts (concrete area with a water tap) were built in houses that did not have a water tap. This ensured that each household got their daily share of sufficient water and did not have to depend on other sources.
“There are no leakages in the taps and overall cleanliness can now be maintained. We now get one and half hours of water daily which is sufficient for washing, toilets and other daily needs. We can now also store upto 200 litres of water for the cattle”, said Rathnamma happily.
“Life has become a lot easier since all the houses started getting water. I don’t have to worry about water anymore or rush while doing my household chores and aanganwadi work”, quips in Chandrakala.
To include the community in the maintenance and management of its water supply system, a 20-member UGC was recently formed. Members of the UGC are all women who have volunteered to participate and have been trained in the proper usage of water, importance of saving water, maintenance of pipelines and stand posts etc. The members are responsible for minor repairs like changing taps, leakages etc. Larger technical problems are referred to the village waterman through the Panchayat. The members of the UGC are now thinking of building recharge pits through community participation for recharging groundwater.
“I have joined the committee so that I can provide suggestions on water supply and usage basis my past experiences. Years ago, there was one open well a kilometre away from where we used to get water daily for the household. Then we got the borewell in the village. Both my sons are blind and could not help much. They have both left me now. My husband also became partially blind and died six years ago. I faced a lot of problems in my life. Now I am alone but with direct water connection at my home, I can finally rest a bit in my old age”, said Munigangamma (62 years), another member of the UGC.