Reforming Water and Sanitation in the Tribal Settlement of Brahmanandapuram
Billu Nayak (62), is a village elder and one of the oldest residents of Brahmanandapuram Thanda GP in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh. Brahmanandapuram Thanda is a rehabilitation settlement of tribes. Access to safe drinking water and quality of water is a concern in this village.
"We (tribals) rehabilitated here during the construction of Nagarjuna Sagar Canal. We came as 360 plus families from the forest, now we are left with 100 odd families. Most of them moved out to the towns in search of better job opportunities." says Billu Nayak.
"Our main occupation in this village is agriculture and related labour work. Sometimes, we go to the forest for jobs like firewood collection and picking seasonal fruits and vegetables. We try to sell them in our neighbourhood markets. We depend on the daily wages we receive from the MNREGA scheme. Some days, we get the full amount as wage and on occasions, we are only paid half of it owing to less or no work," he adds.
"There's a lack of basic amenities in the village and we are stuck here with nowhere to move. I'm settled here because of the two acres of land that the government provided as compensation for rehabilitation. There are no takers for the land and I'm old to migrate from here. My son and daughter-in-law have migrated to the town to better their lives."
"20 years back, we used to go to the forest to collect water from open wells. We now have two borewells and a couple of handpumps constructed by the government. But the supply of water is irregular and not sufficient for 100 families. We are hoping to get good rains this year so we can be benefitted from groundwater recharge unit in our village."
To address the problem of proper sanitation, Billu constructed a toilet outside his house. "I took the initiative to complete the construction of the toilet despite not receiving the full funds from the government. I understand the importance of sanitation and hygiene. My family's health is my utmost priority." says Billu Nayak.
However, access to toilets is still rare in his village. He points out, "You can see a lot of under-construction toilets here. Most of them are defunct because of the inability to procure funds from the government. The contractors under the scheme did not help us complete the toilets due to the lack of funds."
Brahmanandapuram Thanda is one of the Gram Panchayats selected for intervention and implementation of water development projects with the financial and technical support of WaterAid India and Amazon Web Services.