An assessment of livelihood impacts of poor conditions of water supply, sanitation and hygiene on loom workers located in Manpur Nagar Panchayat of Gaya district of Bihar was undertaken on the initiative of Pragati Grameen Vikas Samiti (PGVS, henceforth), with support from WaterAid India. A participatory assessment was carried out by a team of Praxis – Institute for Participatory Practices, aimed at identification of strategic interventions and future course of action for improving the WASH conditions of loom workers for augmenting their productivity in the supply chain. The study was based on the hypothesis that poor conditions of public health, especially deficiencies in access to WASH services, significantly impact the livelihoods of workers

Objectives of the Exploration

  • To assess the livelihood impacts on loom workers (with focus on women and adolescent girls in particular) due to prevalent conditions of WASH;
  • To identify opportunities of intervention for improving the conditions of WASH in the identified community of loom workers.

About the weavers’ community in Manpur Nagar Panchayat of Gaya

The weavers’ community, where the study was undertaken, is located in Manpur Nagar Panchayat in Gaya district of Bihar. It is located at a distance of 5.3 km from Gaya city, which holds a good deal of historical and religious importance. It is surrounded on the three sides by rocky hills and is covered by the river Phalgu, which is the only river that flows by the city. It is one of the major tourist spots in Bihar both for internal and external tourists. Since Gaya is surrounded by hills on three sides, it experiences fairly seasonable climatic conditions. During summers, the temperature is high and this often leads to depletion of ground water levels in this area. Rainfall is not as concentrated here vis-à-vis other parts of Bihar. The city is surrounded by Nalanda and Jehanabad in the north, Nawada in the east, Aurangabad in the west and Chhota Nagpur Plateau of Jharkhand in the south.

Manpur is a municipality and an administrative block within Gaya, famous for its weaving industry. A large number of handloom and powerloom workers reside here. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the number of students from Manpur qualifying the entrance examinations for admission to Indian Institute of Technology. For the purpose of this study, the focus was mainly on the Patwatoli locality inhabited predominantly by weavers.

In Patwatoli, approximately 80% of the residents are of the Patwa (weaver) community, hence, the name Patwatoli. Among the rest, 15% of the population belongs to the Tanti community, which is a sub caste of the Patwa and other castes, including Teli, Rajput and Brahmins. Approximately 5% of those remaining are Muslims. The diagram below presents a bird’s eye view map of the locality of weavers in Manpur.