WaterAid has worked in India since 1986 helping the country's poorest people gain access to safe, sustainable water supplies and sanitation.
We work with local partner organizations, who understand local issues, to implement practical projects as well as campaign locally and nationally to change governmental water and sanitation policies.
India has a huge and diverse population, with vast divides between rich and poor. Just 15% of the rural population has access to a toilet - meaning that some 21 million people need to gain access to basic sanitation every year if the UN's Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people without sanitation by 2015 is to be met.
Suroti Devi demonstrates how to wash hands
Credit: WaterAid / Marco Betti
Through our work with local partner organizations, primarily in the poorer northern areas of the country, WaterAid targets the most vulnerable communities.
Projects focus on promoting sanitation among the rural poor by creating a demand for latrines. When communities learn a lack of adequate clean water and sanitation facilities fuels disease their raised understanding of basic hygiene inspires them to develop their own solutions.
Achievements to date
- WaterAid now helps around 75,000 people to gain access to safe water and 45,000 people gain access to sanitation in India each year.
- We have organized national workshops on key issues facing the water and sanitation sector including urban challenges, climate change and water quality.
- Our disaster preparedness work in Bihar has been recognised by the state government, who has officially recommended it be scaled up.
Sonu collects water at a WaterAid funded water pump in Madhya Pradesh.
Credit: WaterAid / Marco Betti
WaterAid currently works across 10 Indian states, with a combined population of 249 million.
While official statistics show that a high proportion of the population has access to safe water, one of the country's biggest problems is a lack of resources to maintain vital water supplies.
Wherever possible, WaterAid assists local partner organizations and its communities to restore existing water facilities and train community members to become handpump mechanics so they can repair future problems themselves.
In rural projects, WaterAid and its partners assists villages to gain access to water and sanitation from the Government. They then train villagers to maintain the new infrastructure and set up village water and sanitation committees to manage the projects in a way that involves all the community and promotes good hygiene.
WaterAid also helps the rural poor to put forward their views in village governing bodies such as the Gram Sabha (a village level forum for decision making) and Panchayats (local government) so that their concerns over water and sanitation are raised.
The problems in urban areas are more complex. As cities and towns become more developed the poorer slum and squatter settlements where the majority live are being pushed further to the periphery. Inhabitants of these areas have no legal right to their land and therefore no legal rights to water and sanitation services.
With the Indian Government increasingly delegating responsibility for utility provision to the Panchayats, whose structures vary greatly from state to state, WaterAid is required to individualize its approach. Urban governance, management of utilities, bankrupt municipalities in small towns, costly infrastructure and the lack of waste management are all major challenges that need to be faced.Download India info sheet
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