The Visakha Jilla Nava Nirmana Samithi’s efforts have ensured that women who used to walk miles every day to get water now just have to go down the street for it
When girls of a village are forced to leave school so that they are at hand to fetch drinking water from miles away, it only shows how dire the situation is. The men go to work and the women are left the job of fetching water for the entire household. Sometimes, they end up spending seven hours getting the water required for the family. For around 100 villages and 25,000 people in Narsipatnam, Andhra Pradesh, this is a story of the past. Thanks to the efforts of the Visakha Jilla Nava Nirmana Samithi (VJNNS), these villages have been getting safe drinking water at their doorstep. Infosys Foundation extended a helping hand and joined VJNNS’s initiative at a time when the organization was dreaming big.
No more walking for water
VJNNS was established in 1972 in Visakhapatnam and later shifted its headquarters to Narsipatnam. It has been working on various developmental projects, such as water, sanitation, health, hygiene, education and agriculture. One of its oldest and ambitious projects is Neeru-Aaroghyam. Under this project, VJNNS has been focusing on providing safe drinking water to tribal villages using a technique called Gravity Fed Water Supply System (GFWSS). The aim is to reach 2,000 villages, and ensure that water is available 24x7, 365 days a year without the use of electricity. Infosys Foundation, willing to go the extra mile for organizations trying to build sustainable resources for the rural poor, was enthused by the simple yet effective method of supplying water to these villages. For both organizations, the ultimate goal is to make the villages selfsufficient using these self-governed projects. GFWSS involves the creation of a source tank along the identified spring source, distributioncum-filter-tank and channelizing the water using gravity to the village through pipelines. The method also encourages the protection of catchment areas by creating plantations around them. A major part of Neeru-Aaroghyam is training the villagers to effectively manage the water system by forming committees, setting up a development fund and running workshops. Training is also given on good sanitation and hygiene practices.
Women at ease
In the words of many villagers, the most satisfying impact has been on women and girl children. As water has now reached their doorstep, they don’t have to walk miles to fetch water. Girls have returned to school while the women are now able to help the men in cultivation. The additional labor has led to more area being cultivated and therefore, higher incomes. Infosys Foundation’s support has helped VJNNS install GFWSS in 98 villages already and work is under way in 14 more. Another 30 are on the cards. A sensible technique which requires minimum energy is used to create a sustainable resource that helps increase incomes and socio-economic status, and boost education. This is a perfect example of the outcome that the Foundation hopes to achieve across India in the long run.