India has been vulnerable to floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches and forest fires. Natural hazards have affected nearly six per cent of the population in India and 24% of the deaths in Asia are due to the disasters that have occurred in India. Around two per cent of India’s GDP is lost due to such disasters.
Out of 35 states and union territories in the country, 27 of them are disaster prone. Most of the states where WaterAid works fall under the disaster prone category.
Disaster severely affects the infrastructure and services related to hygiene, drinking water and sanitation. Floods or tidal surges inundate tube-wells, ponds and water bodies and contaminate the natural sources of fresh water thereby forcing affected communities to use unsafe water.
Toilets are generally fragile and mostly unsuitable to withstand high flood or cyclone. It leaves people with no other option but to go for open defecation. Such crisis in safe water supply and sanitation service severely disrupts hygiene practices. Because of water contamination, public health situation often deteriorates spreading water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.
WaterAid India contributes to disaster risk reduction by integrating appropriate disaster resilience measures while developing WASH programming for communities. The process starts with participatory vulnerability analysis within the communities that WaterAid India and its partners work. Based on vulnerability analysis, we integrate appropriate and simple community-based disaster resilience measures in WASH programmes.
Climate change is an emerging area of attention and focus for WaterAid globally and in India. Over the next few decades, it is predicted that billions of people, particularly those in emerging and developing countries can face shortages of water and food and greater risks to health and life as a result of climate change. It has been recognised that concerted global action is needed to enable these countries to adapt to the effects of climate change that are happening now and will worsen in the future .
WaterAid India prepares the communities with adaptation measures for the impacts of climate change that affect WASH infrastructure and services sustainability. The process starts with vulnerability analysis of the rural and urban poor to the impacts on WASH infrastructure and services due to climate change and building up simple community-based adaptation measures. Once the interventions are found to be useful for risk reduction to the potential impacts of the climate change, WaterAid India builds up advocacy around these issues through climate change networks and WASH stakeholders at each level.