Even though the government has initiated various schemes and programmes to deal with water quality issues, their execution is quite disappointing. Therefore, to ensure proper implementation at the community level, WaterAid India connects with the villagers themselves to take the task in their hands.
The National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) recommends drinking water testing to be done at least twice a year in the villages of Chhattisgarh for bacterial contamination, and once a year to identify chemical contamination of water. Field Testing Kits (FTKs) have been advised to be used for primary detection of chemical and biological contamination of drinking water sources across the villages. School teachers, Aanganwadi workers, ASHA workers, Gram Panchayat members and volunteers are trained from time to time for water quality testing using FTKs.
Despite introducing such schemes, there is a major lag in execution. To bridge this gap, WaterAid India has initiated efforts to improve the execution of water quality testing and bring about a positive change.
WaterAid organised a training on water quality testing using FTKs on 28-29 July 2017, for all project team members and identified volunteers. The training was held in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh, along with the support of its partner organisations, Samarthan, and field team members and volunteers from CARMDAKSH in Korba, and Lok Shakti in Durg.
A total of 40 volunteers, 10 field team members, and two laboratory technicians from Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) Kanker district participated in the training. Key issues discussed were water quality, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) parameters, health impacts, treatment options and water testing through FTK.
An expert in the sector of drinking water quality testing, Rahul, an engineer at Ltek Ltd (a licensed vendor for FTKs), demonstrated the use of FTK in four villages using various parameters of water testing – turbidity, pH, hardness, chloride, fluoride, nitrate, iron, and bacteriological test.
Divided into two teams, the participants shared the test results with the community members as well. An action plan for testing all the drinking water sources was prepared after the field exercise. A compiled report of water quality testing of all the drinking water sources from WAI intensive GPs was proposed to be shared with the district administration and PHED for necessary action required to streamline water quality testing and community surveillance of all the drinking water sources in their districts.
Every year, PHED procures FTKs/refills and supplies to panchayats, and monitoring and surveillance results from habitations are put on online database of PHED to ensure safe drinking water at the household level. However, the situation on the ground is quite in contrast despite all the good provisions. It was noticed that the FTK were hardly ever used by the people who had received the training, and the kits were lying unused in stores of panchayats, and sometimes at the block and district offices of PHED. Thus, the training initiated by WaterAid India helped to accelerate the process of testing the water quality at the communities.