In the summer of 2016, over 15,000 villages covering almost half of Maharashtra’s districts were declared drought-affected. Ruined harvests and devastated livestock were rife. As pipes and wells ran dry and temperatures soared, water was a necessity to survive.
How we helped
Beed district, an area where SEEDS had intervened in earlier emergencies, was chosen as a focal point. The identified 9 villages of Majalgaon block, had large marginalized populations living on the outskirts and were off the radar of ongoing relief operations.
Water provided per family took place according to WHO and SPHERE standards of 15 litres per person per day for both drinking and hygiene needs. Water testing was done at the primary source and also before distribution to ensure no contamination. The tests included turbidity, TDS (total dissolved solids), E-coli (bacteriological testing) and residual chlorine.
Even the tanker spread and distribution points were selected extremely carefully to allow for equitable and easy access. In most areas, this ensured that it was within 500 metres of the furthest family.
A strong volunteer network played a key role. Systematic tagging of all families was done through water distribution cards, helping avoid duplications and wastage. WASH committees were formed at Tanda (hamlet) level to make the entire water distribution process community-driven (with communities overseeing the process). Women played a critical role in these committees, ensuring outreach to the last mile. One of the other crucial functions of these committees was to promote safe hygiene practices like hand washing techniques and curbing open defecation.
CRM boxes were also established and installed in each village. The feedback provided helped make changes as per emerging needs, particularly with regard to returning migrants.
1578 families were also reached with emergency nutrition. The food baskets were carefully curated based on local tastes and high nutrient value. This included jowar (white millet), rice (parboiled), daliya (broken wheat), Toor dal, iodised salt, jaggery, soya bean nuggets and fortified soya bean cooking oil.
Leaving a mark
Between May and July 2016, SEEDS reached out to1887 families (9426 people) with equitable water aid. A total of 43,58,481 litres of water was distributed throughout this time. These efforts on reaching the unseen have helped families survive with dignity and have even stopped a few from distress migration.