Paul Malto is an adivasi school teacher from the remote hilly region of Sahibganj in Jharkhand. In a region that does not even receive a cell phone signal, Paul is a rare literate individual. He says that it puts him in a position of responsibility. He is representative and mouthpiece of his community’s voice, something that he hopes to amplify…
Composing 70% of the adult human body, water is one of the most basic requirements for survival. It is also a commodity that is fast turning into a luxury for the inhabitants of Sahibganj district in the hilly northeast of Jharkhand.
Today’s video, by Community Correspondent Paul Malto, documents the acute problems currently being faced by the residents of Chamdapahar village as they struggle to survive in the absence of one of life’s greatest necessities. Almost a decade ago, the sole well of their area dried up. Since then, they have had to scrounge for water in hillside pools and puddles.
Each election campaign in the region promises a new well. But once the votes are counted and the candidate wins, all bets are off. Mahendra Paharia, a resident of the village, was impassioned in his plea as he spoke to Video Volunteers:
“It has been so long now, we need a new well. How can we live without water? The tap in the village hardly ever works, and when it does, the water from it is brown with mud. Water is not easy to find in the hills. We have to walk long distances, and then we share the source with our cattle. Please do something to help us.”
Paul Malto went on to specify that this predicament was not limited to Chamdapahar:
“The villages of Sahibganj are grappling with a real water crisis. In Khutapahar, the people have to wake up early in the morning and set out in search of water. It is the same in Agarpahar, Bhatbangapahar and Bagichabedo. I had made another video on Bagichabedo. The government then fixed the village well. But it was all only for show. Three months later, it had dried up again.”
“The people here have no respite. All sources dry up in the summer, and in the monsoon the water is thick with dirt and mud – its whole colour changes. Diseases are spreading in the region, especially malaria. The government keeps saying that it will do something about our troubles, but when?”
It is a question in dire need of a response, and we hope that Paul’s video today will bring it one step closer to being answered.
Lara A. Chandni
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