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'No water supply': Toilets in less than 30% Odisha rural houses, mostly 'not in use'

By Our Representative

Various areas of Kandhamal district in Odisha are experiencing acute water shortage and infrastructure woes adding to the problems of the people, reveals a recent study on Water availability and sources” conducted by non-profit Atmashakti Trust and its allies Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha , Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha and Jeebika Suraksha Mancha, Kandhamal.
Conducted online that covered 304 villages under 15 Gram Panchayats of Kotagada block of Kandhamal, the survey result found that erratic and inadequate water supply has made life difficult for the people living on hilly and remote areas of the district and recommends immediate repair of water structure/infrastructure to meet water needs of these communities.
Odisha has set a target to cover all rural households to have access to safe and adequate drinking water at their doorsteps by 2024. A whopping Rs 50,000 crore is projected to be spent under different schemes and projects to ensure the same. However, the survey results from Kotagada block urges immediate and time bound implementation of government schemes to ensure access to safe water for all.

Survey findings

In 304 surveyed villages, there are 604 tube-wells, out of which 215 (35.6%) tube-wells are not in usable condition due to defunct structures, iron contaminated water & water scarcity. It is contrary to the official data of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) department which claims that all tube-wells are functioning properly.
The study report says that out of 604 tube wells, only 49 (8%) tube wells have Proper sock pits and 272 (45%) tube wells have no platform.
Out of 304 villages, only 54 (17.76%)villages have a solar tank from which 22 (40.7%) are running and remaining are 32(59.3%) in defunct conditions due to problems in the motor pump, groundwater level & damage of the stand-post.
As many as 174 (57.2%) villages depended on dug-wells but in summer due to the depletion of groundwater level the villagers are facing problems and in other 109 (35.85) villages due to muddy water during the rainy season the villagers are enduring for drinking water.
Only 85 (28%) villages have a drainage system in their villages, from the total 22 (25.88%) villages' drainage structures are defunct and 28 (33%) villages' drainage structures are partially damaged and not functioning well.
In all, 226 (74.3%) villages are getting contaminated water like Muddy and Iron water which is not drinkable. As a fall out of this, water-borne diseases among communities such as Diarrhea is a common case in these communities. Secondly, communities often rely on the rain water but it may carry varying contaminants from the surfaces on which it lands. In fact, rainwater can carry bacteria, parasites, viruses, and chemicals that make humans sick.
“Access to safe and clean water is a basic necessity to meet water needs and has a correlative impact to combat malnutrition. The government has a provision of installing a bore-well for every 200 to 250 populations but in tribal areas, people live scattered. So, even if bore wells are available, they can hardly access water due to distance”, said Nityananda Thanapati, Programme Manager of Atmashakti Trust.
“Since we have been working to combat malnutrition in Kotagada since 2018, we believe that it cannot be combated until the lack of access to safe water is addressed” , he added.
Kotagada block has over 18,000 households with a population of nearly 60,000. The study which covered all households in the block revealed that only 5,008 (28%) households have constructed toilets in their houses, out of which only 1,536 (31%) of them are using toilets. The findings reveal that the major reason for not using toilets by communities is mainly due to the lack of available water and damaged toilet structures.

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