Creating water assets for tribal families

chalice1Tribal families in the hilly areas of Gajapati district have from time immemorial utilized traditionally available material and the flow of gravity to transfer water from springs to their villages. However, the undulating terrain adds to the woes of the local communities making access to safe drinking water a challenge. Also the methods used by them are prone to regular damage. With a poor understanding of sanitation and hygiene practices, the water is at greater risk of contamination.

Bishops house, Berhampur is Christian humanitarian organization working to create lasting change in the lives of children, families and communities serving in poverty and injustice. Chalice International is a Canadian funding organization and has been providing Bishops house with the financial assistance in their development objectives. AFPRO was selected to provide Bishops house with socio-technical support in identifying potential drinking water and irrigation facilities in 13 villages of Gajapati district, Orissa.

Guiding the programme were the objectives to advocate feasible options aimed at reduction in malnutrition, drinking and irrigation water. 13 villages in remote segments of Gajapati district served as the base for implementation of interventions that would contribute to improvement in lives of tribal communities.

While tribals in Gajapati district are local experts in diverting water from perennial streams to their villages through locally available materials like bamboo for drinking and other allied purposes from time immemorial, the whole system works on the principle of gravitational flow without any modern technological inputs.

Modern touch to the traditional knowledge is only reflected in the size and shape of the structures. It consists of structures and components like check dam/collection chamber, sedimentation tank, filter unit, storage or distribution tank, pipeline and stand posts equipped with water taps. Sedimentation tanks which collect the spring water have been built in Jharganda, Laxmipur, Kampadar, Gunjiponka, Lekharigaon, Lekhariguda, Tikelma, Rapet, Luthuri and Rabba village. Filters attached to the sedimentation tanks serve as water purifiers before water is transferred to the villages through a distribution network with stand posts as the end point.

Active participation from communities in these naxal affected areas has been observed. The local communities are satisfied with assets created in their villages as it is providing them with access to safe water.