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Aside 29 Mar

Finally got around to correcting my typos ! For some reason the blog doesn’t appear in date order. For those interested, click on the February tab and the blog will be presented in chronological order. Also, please check out wateraid.org. Regards Andy

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Jonhar, Datia District

26 Feb

WaterAid in India – more than taps and toilets

26 Feb

The water, sanitation and health education model that WaterAid use is extremely effective and understood by most. The WaterAid operation in India is different – WaterAid do not directly fund projects, instead WA India and their (up to 50 no.) partners use influence to “lever” funding from central & regional Govt. water and sanitation programmes. Partners use their influence, contacts, expertese, local knowledge, prioritisation of community needs to secure funding for projects.

This, combined with community action, ie. village action groups (management committees / womens groups / youth groups / school groups) who provide the drive and commitment for change in their community.

When these two factors merge the results can be a potent combination, the results of which I witnessed in the post intervention visits described in my blog.

The coordination and management of these factors by the WA India team is complex but very effective – advocacy at it’s best.

From a personel point of view I had only previously considered the drive for improved sanitation was essentially for health reasons. In India, the key priority is womens dignity and prevention of sexual assault (or worse).

None of the communities we visited wallowed in self pity, were all positive, proud, knew what they wanted / needed, and why, realised the importance of water sanitation and health education and moreover all knew the importance of a good education was a passport to a better quality of life.

Again I would like to acknowledge and thank the WA India team and Partners (in particular the inspirational AARAMBH) for their amazing work and for being such good hosts during the past week.

Finally thanks again to the WaterAid staff on our trip and my fellow water industry travellers / supporters. Our lives have been enriched by the experience.

Andy Blanks

Feb 23rd – the longest day !

25 Feb

It’s all over bar the journey home. Early morning flight from Bhopal to Delhi and the prospect of a 15 hour wait for the ‘long haul’ to Heathrow. We did manage a little sight seeing in Delhi – the Red Fort and India Gate but essentially the day was spent capturing our thoughts by the WA film crew and reflecting on our experiences during the past week and how we as individuals can make a difference on our return to the UK.

Many thanks to the WaterAid staff on the trip, Emily, Lucy. Lisa, Christine and especially Izzy for her amazing ‘organisational’ skills – one more time ….’on the buses’. Also the film and camera team, WaterAid India staff for their wonderful support and my fellow travellers / supporters who made the experience so memorable.

Apologies for the brevity of some of my blogs, it was difficult blogging via a Blackberry handset, often until the early hours via very weak wi fi signals – lost count of the number of times I lost my text when the signal dropped.

Keep an eye out for my ‘reflections on India’ blog tomorrow.

Feb 22nd – slum blog part 2

24 Feb

The afternoon we visited Arjun Nagar, again on the outskirts of Bhopal, a ‘post intervention’ slum with a population of 2000 (400 houses). Another warm welcome with children singing for us. To date 3 no. standpipes have been provided and ALL households provided with a latrine block. These were government funded with a small houshold contribution and /or labour. A visit to a family house revealed life before and after the sanitantion improvement work with evidence of better heath, environment, dignity and female security. WaterAid partners in conjunction with the ‘corporator’ (community representative) have arranged gargabe collections and the colony (as it now prefers to be called – rather than a slum) have aspirations of improving their homes / a water storage tower (for a contuous secure supply) and a community hall. This is an empowered community who have organised themselves (with a strong steer from WaterAid) and have reaped the benefits of the amazing work that WaterAid India and associated partners are carrying out in Madhya Pradesh.

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Our evening was spent reflecting on a thought provoking, emotional rollercoaster of a week in central India. Will update my blog and summarise my thoughts tomorrow.

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Andy with family in Shiv Nagar

23 Feb

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Feb 22nd- slum blog pt 1

22 Feb

Plan today is to visit 2 Bhopal slums, one pre, one post WaterAid intervention. The pre visit was to Shir Nagar, 400 houses 2000 pop. Slum is served by a few standpipes, water available only one hour per day and none at all during summer. Open sewers are evident leading to severe disease and infant mortality. Spent several hours with a family who related their difficult lives but also aspirations for the future. Evidence of Govt support via creche facility and sewer ‘dredging’. Families didn’t wallow in self pity, just got on with their lives and fully understood their situation and issues. The appreciation on the families faces was humbling. WaterAid must make a difference here !
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