Bhan Sahu thought being poor meant walking a kilometer to school and then having to drop out when she was eight years old, until she started working at an NGO and realized there were others even less fortunate than herself. Her interest in education didn’t wane, however. Using video as a tool to bring people together, her Community Correspondent reports…
Villagers in Khursipar, Chhattisgarh, are desperate in the face of acute water scarcity.
In Khursipar, water has become alarmingly scarce and is the main concern in the lives of the 500 villagers. All share the same worrying questions: how do we get water to cook, to wash clothes? How do we take a bath or get drinking water?
The village pond has been dry for the last three years, sparking the villagers’ despair. Villagers now have to walk to the nearby river to bathe as well as for their daily chores. The trip to the river, located three kilometers away from the village, is exhausting for women, who have to carry along their utensils to be washed, and come back with heavy water buckets. A woman describes her situation: “We have to travel to three kilometers to bathe. We have to leave behind our young children when we go”. The villagers are increasingly anxious, because the water flow in the surrounding areas is drastically reduced due to rarity of rains in the last few years.
A hand pump is also available in the village, but the villagers could not use it for long: the pump broke down some time after being set up because of the lack of maintenance. An angry villager explains: “There is a hand pump but it does not work."
The villagers in Khursipar have attempted to voice their problems, demanding a bore well that would provide the village with a sustainable source of water. “We have made a petition to the local council and concerned authorities, but there has been no response from the government’s side concerning a bore well”. As often, their demands are responded to with silence from the local government, and no action is taken to improve the situation. It is difficult for impoverished tribals to keep a sustained mobilization going, and they were soon pulled back by their daily chores and struggle for survival.
Tribals, who constitute around 20% of the Indian population are mainly kept out of the development process. Often consisting of BPL communities, tribal villages usually suffer from a lack of infrastructure and investment. The lack of maintenance and the negligence with which these populations are treated by officials often make things worse for them. As a result, tribal communities usually score alarmingly badly on all development indexes. The situation in Khursipar is an example of deadly negligence. Legitimate demands put forward by the villagers are not paid attention, although water is essential to life, and thus a basic human right.
Today’s video has been produced by our Community Correspondent from Chhattisgarh, Bhan Sahu. She is a veteran social worker, having worked for years to support local populations, especially tribal communities, gaining their trust and gratitude.She was struck by the situation of villagers in Khursipar, with whom she has been working with for some time. “This type of thing makes you feel like the task is endless. I helped them to claim their rights some years ago. But now a new problem has come up, and it’s the lack of water that hampers their lives." She decided to make a video to support them, by showing them that their situation was worth being paid attention, as well as to expose their dire lot to the world. “These types of stories are never covered in the mainstream media, although such situations impact the lives of common people across India”.
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