India was known for the land of localized means of water supply, with community-managed artesian wells, ponds, tanks, and small-scale irrigation reservoirs being the predominant source of drinking water in rural areas. Sadly, India is rapidly changing to the land of water scarcity caused by negligence, environmental changes and lack of ownership by community. There are clear policy commitments and huge budgetary allocation to address water quality issues but no clear plans to remedy the water quality situation in a sustained manner.

In Telangana State, the Water Quality Surveillance and Monitoring Programme covers 25,139 habitations, which is about 53% of the total habitations. Of these, 8,794 are affected by water quality issues – 3,980 fluoride, 4,147 iron, and 1,475 nitrate and are still increasing (GoI, 2014). The local institutions (Water Testing Labs, local government and Civil Society Organizations) lack resources/ knowledge/ capacity on the issues and opportunities to address water quality.  Systemic challenges caused by lack of awareness on water quality, weak local institutions and water politics makes safe drinking water supply ever challenging. This Water Quality Project provides a great opportunity to enable people and local governments to make effective use of the resources and infrastructure available to ensure safe water supply and sanitation services.

The action-based project is implemented across 16 villages in Nizamabad district. The National Rural Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Program (NRDWQMSP) has over 70 % coverage in the district but at the same time 11% of the water sources are contaminated (GoI, 2014).  In this view the Project assesses the gaps in NRDWQMSP. It highlights the performances of Division/Sub-Division and District Water Quality Testing Laboratories and builds capacities of the Government Officials to effective delivery safe water quality. The Project revives the defunct Village Water and Sanitation Committee (VWSCs) to sustain access and delivery of water supply and sanitation services.


Phase I  – Gap Identification and Community Mobilization

In 2014-2015 the key activities implemented were – Baseline survey across the 16 villages, Assessment of the State Water Quality Test Labs (75 labs of Telangana), Assessment on the Gap of Water Testing Sources and its reporting by State Labs in Nizamabad district, Development of Training Modules, Documentary on Field Testing Kits, WASH awareness programs/ campaigns across the villages (through Kalajathas), Construction of Critical Hardware (Roof Water Harvesting Structure and Provision of Drinking Water at Village School), Training Water Quality Lab Officials and Community Members on PRIs, Water Governance (VWSC roles & responsibility), Awareness on Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and Consultation with State and District Government Authorities.

The Project partnered with State Water and Sanitation Mission (SWSM), Govt. of Telangana to sensitize the authorities about ground realities. Together with SWSM it  identified and acknowledged the gaps and built capacities to address those gaps through Government intervention.

Phase II – Revival of VWSCs

The Project in 2015-2016 is guided with the philosophy ‘communities are unaware about receiving welfare benefits, if VWSC members are not escorted or linked with government authorities, they will not be familiar to demand social welfare services’. The Project will address the revival of the defunct VWSCs, build capacities of decentralized institutions, spread awareness on WASH seeking behavior, establish linkages among community members to avail toilet facilities through the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) department, strengthen capacity of lab officials, and replicate the model to revive VWSCs in other villages as a pilot initiative. The project maps the Central and State Government’s expenditure pattern in provisioning Drinking Water and Sanitation services.

The VWSCs are established as per the Government Order that guide community mobilisers and the community members (including the Panchayat members).

Phase III – Replication of VWSC revival Model

The Project expands to a total of 32 villages in Nizamabad district, sharing knowledge on the revival of VWSCs and providing inputs on achievable targets of State and National Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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