Women take charge to invest in health
In the last nearly 25 years of its existence, the Self Help Group that Savitri of Madamandoddi village in Karnataka’s Raichur district is now the leader of, the most common reasons for giving out loans were either to assist members during a family wedding or to invest in agriculture. But in the last one and half years, women have frequently approached the Self Help Group to take financial assistance to build toilets and for better sanitation facilities. It’s a marked change in attitude—the result of a series of awareness campaigns by WaterAid India on WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene). The hallmark of this change was when the Self Help Group, along with the community, collected enough money for the restoration and installation of mini water tanks in their village, thereby ensuring access to safe drinking water for the entire village.
Until about two years back, access to clean drinking water was a big challenge for the people of Madamandoddi village. “There were two water tanks in the village of which one was broken and not in use. The other was also not in good condition with bushes growing all around and dirt collecting in the corners. There was also hardly any space to keep the water cans we’d get to collect water,” Savitri said.
To add to their water woes, when a team of volunteers trained by WaterAid India came to test the quality of water in the bore well that the village used, it was found to be contaminated. “This explained all the health issues, the aches, and the pains, that most of us in the village suffered from. The water we were drinking was unsafe,” she said.
To address the problem, another bore well was installed in the village. The community, Savitri said, however, they used the bore well water for household chores and would get drinking water from the school in the village instead.
Meanwhile, the Self Help Group began to be made aware of the importance of WASH for their health which relates to access to clean drinking water, safe sanitation facilities, and maintaining hygiene. They were told about the implications of unhygienic surroundings on their children’s health, and the grave consequences of drinking unsafe water. How ill health dents a hole in their pockets apart from jeopardising their future. “This made us realise the urgent need to renovate the water tanks in our village,” Savitri said.