Water

"You kept your promise!"

By Jon Hargreaves

 What a joy to be back in the remote Maharashtran village of Kahandol in time to celebrate the inauguration of their two new wells.  Just four months earlier I had been standing on a dried up riverbed with my Indian colleagues, Shilpa, Sam and Akshay and the head of the village, Patil Ramdas Warde.  Ramdas told us how the drought had brought great hardship to his village and he asked us if there was anything we could do to help.

HCR began working with Seva Social Welfare Foundation (Seva) in January 2018, with a vision to use a community-centred media approach to transform indigenous tribal communities, known as Adivasis, who are some of the most disadvantaged people in the country.  “In the last 10 months since the first audio programmes were distributed we have seen a dramatic decline in many illnesses as people have changed their habits around water, sanitation and hygiene,” Shilpa Shinde Seva’s chief executive told me.  Besides monthly health camps, the community have been receiving creative audio programmes on “speakerboxes” (Mp3 players) which have already brought about significant change on a range of issues ranging from health and hygiene to livelihoods and the importance of educating female children. 

But it was the water crisis that has focused the attention of the Seva team for the last four months.  With support from HCR and the very generous gift of British family with a passion for India, the Seva team facilitated the sinking of two wells and tanks that will mean the village will never lack for water again. 

New wells and water tanks mean the people of Kahandol will never run out of water again.

New wells and water tanks mean the people of Kahandol will never run out of water again.

After colourful tribal dances and music played on traditional instruments followed by a community meal, Ramdas turned to me and said, “This water has given the gift of life to this community for generations to come.  You came back.  You kept your promise.  Thank you!”

 

In September we will be facilitating a major evaluation to assess how the project has impacted the community with a view to scaling the project up to reach many more tribal villages across the state and then across the country.

If you would like to support this project or would like further information please contact hcruk@h-c-r.org.

“We didn’t realize that our voice was so effective and strong!”

By Hazeen Latif

Change is happening and its infectious! The development changes we have seen in the last few months in Majukay, a community in Charsadda, Pakistan, were almost unimaginable 4 years ago when the community members set ambitious goals for being a healthy thriving society. It feels like a corner has been turned, and the change is gaining momentum.

  • The main street leading into the village is being upgraded with a concrete surface. Until a few months ago it was a rough, soil track scarred with ditches and puddles.

Concreting the road surface. Majukay, April 2019. (HCR Pakistan)

Concreting the road surface. Majukay, April 2019. (HCR Pakistan)

  • A new transformer is soon to be installed. This summer people can enjoy a cool breeze from their fans. Previously the low capacity in the electricity supply meant people suffered in the heat with fans running at tortoise speed.

  • The local administration has agreed to spray the community to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and spreading Dengue fever. Summer heat is on its way and with it the risk of Dengue increases.

Structural development like this doesn’t happen easily because of bureaucratic inertia. But something new has happened in the last year few months. Local authorities have started to release funds for development as they pay new attention to the community needs, and to the appetite for change.  Other are taking notice too. Nearby villages want to know how to bring similar changes to their own communities.

“It is all due to our radio program and WhatsApp group”

Zahid Ullah Zahid, who heads the Naway Saher Community Services Group.

Councillor in NS Studio, April 2019. HCR Pakistan

Councillor in NS Studio, April 2019. HCR Pakistan

Naway Saher formed a small radio production team, trained by HCR Pakistan, and, since November 2018, they have been broadcasting a community radio programme in Pushto language on a local FM station. The village voice is getting louder and stronger through radio and it reached the ears of the district councillor.  He decided to support the new structural developments and even came to be interviewed in the radio studio.

“We didn’t realize that our voice was so effective and strong”

One of the newly trained production team members.

So far the Majukay story has been one of gradual change. People have been coming together to discuss issues and establish unity. Less and less people have the mindset that nothing will happen and only the government should do everything. Naway Saher (New Dawn) Community Services Group, supported by HCR Pakistan, has held community workshops, village committees, and youth sports events. Village elders have given their support. Families have started boiling water for drinking to avoid illness from contaminated water sources. In 2016 HCR Pakistan supported the community to dig a well and the well has been giving clean water since. People come from far away to get the only clean drinking water and are claiming that it is a miracle as the water never stops giving odorless good water.

The Majukay story is spreading – upwards, outwards and inwards.

“More people are joining with us” says Zahid Ullah. Not only are surrounding villages wanting to see similar changes, but more people from within the community want to get involved.

Help keep this viral effect going! HCR Pakistan is seeking funding to help Naway Saher become even more inclusive, with more media content created for and by women and girls. We are also seeking funding to help two more communities in nearby districts to develop community-centred media projects. Please contact us if you want to know more, or you can Donate via this web site.

Time is running out!

By Jon Hargreaves

HCR does not drill wells! We support communities in crisis, through media. We work with partners who do this kind of thing. It’s not in our strategic plan. So we don’t drill wells…. usually that is!

But then sometimes, when the need is great, one has no choice. Which is why we’ve done it before !

And we need to do it again as time is running out for one marginalised Adivasi (indigenous tribal) community in Maharastra, India.

We have reached out to those who do drill wells as their core business, but they are unable to help. So we're going to drill a well!

Our grateful thanks to those who have enabled us to make this a reality.

For more information contact: hcruk@h-c-r.org



"Only 28 days until the water runs out!"

By Alice Stout

The river bed is drying out.

The river bed is drying out.

Says Patil Ramdas Warde, the leader of a village in Maharashtra. Such is the plight of many tribal communities across the county. The lack of rain has led to major crop failure. Eighty per cent of the rice plantations have failed to yield a harvest. As the Patil – meaning ‘village head’ – shared his worries with us, the need of the Adivasi Village Project became increasingly apparent.

The dichotomy of India

India is the fastest growing economy in the world, yet when we went to pay for our hotel stay in Nashik, reception could not accept an international credit card. We experienced similar problems trying to withdraw cash from ATMs. As I upload this blog using 4G from my mobile hotspot, villages 10 kilometres from here do not have a sustainable water supply. It is such a bizarre phenomenon to be surrounded by all the technology of the modern age yet know basic needs for daily living are lacking around us. But there is an incredible opportunity here for positive social change using media.

HCR is working with Seva Social Welfare Foundation to bring health, education, and social development through the “speaker boxes” project.The speaker-MP3 players, provided to every family in the village, are filled with informative and entertaining programmes to help alleviate the problems that come from dirty water, non-nutritional food, and lack of sanitation healthcare.

“Speaker boxes” making an astonishing impact

It is six months since the "speaker boxes" were first distributed, and already the impact is astonishing.

 “People are changing their habits. There is good hygiene now, people are boiling water, and there are fewer stomach problems than before," says the Patil. He told us that the tribe learned how to construct a dam through the Adivasi Village Project.

“Without your programmes, we would have already run out of water.”

Patil Ramdas also told us that when the monsoon does arrive in June, and the reservoir begins to fill, the first rain collected in the dam makes people very sick. HCR and Seva are now supplying chlorine tablets to prevent cholera and other common diseases after the first rainfall.

But now the urgent need is to find a specialist on-the-ground group to come and aid the village – drilling a well would mean they never run out of water again.

Patil Ramdas is concerned for his community.

Patil Ramdas is concerned for his community.

“Better than Nestle's!” - Clean water brings health to Pakistan community

By Jon Hargreaves

“You have lost me my business,” health clinic owner,  Zahid jokingly tells HCR Pakistan director Hazeen Latif.   He was speaking at the opening of the new drinking well in his village, provided by HCR, funded by an Australian church.  “Since this well opened three weeks ago,” Zahid says, “I am selling less Flagyl because fewer people are having stomach problems.”  With a smile on his face he says, “this water is even better than Nestlé's.”  The well project was a result of a consultation facilitated by HCR which identified some of the main needs facing the community. 

Schoolboy tries the clean drinking water from the new well in his village, KPK province, Pakistan

Schoolboy tries the clean drinking water from the new well in his village, KPK province, Pakistan

HCR has been working in this village in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province since 2013, helping the community understand and tackle their health and social development challenges.  “It has been such a privilege to walk alongside this community for the last three years and feel like I’m part of them,” says Hazeen.  “During that time we’ve seen some great things happen, like the medical camp that HCR sponsored with a local partner. We also sponsored a community cricket match and have done a micro-enterprise project, "he added,"but perhaps the most difficult time was when a nearby school was attacked by terrorists and I experienced the grief the community was going through."

HCR has been working in Pakistan in development and disaster response since 2013, with a vision of seeing whole of life transformation in some of the most challenging places in the country.

Well-digging in KPK, Pakistan is very manual (Video)

Well-digging in KPK, Pakistan is very manual (Video)