Berhampur city currently requires 54 Mega Litre per Day (MLD) for its 3, 55,823 (2011 census) people. But the PHED is able to provide only 46 MLD. There is shortage of 8 MLD and the acute shortage becomes peak during summer. This heavily burdens people living in slums and specifically the women and children in families. 66% of slums are not covered with official water supply. Only 15.7% of slum dwellers have tap at home connection. The supply of water is sporadic and frequency supply is only one (1) hour per day while it is alternate days in some places. The water shortages in slums are acute due to shortage of number of stand posts to its population.
Govt. of India in its recent ‘smart city’ concept has added water supply is an important component and smart cities should therefore have adequate availability of piped water supply that also meets benchmarks of water quality, pressure, etc. across the city. Dual water supply systems that serve the needs of drinking water and other needs would help in recycling water and conserving it.
Safe water, adequate sanitation and good hygiene practices are essential for young children to survive and thrive – to be healthy and to develop both physically and mentally. Children loose time for other activities like schooling, playing, meeting with other children in their neighborhood, networking, etc. At the same time it has been observed that young children are mostly affected by a range of water borne disease like diarrhea, cholera, malaria, typhoid, filariasis, dengue, etc, due to poor water quality. However, the slum dwellers due to lack of awareness continue to ignore the link between poor water quality and the diseases.
Children on the occasion of ‘world water week’ demand a ‘child friendly smart city’ with provision of safe, clean, hygiene, adequate and affordable drinking water to all slums in the city. Immediate attention should be given
- Setting up of extra public taps and increase the timing of water supply to two hours and two times in a day, in water shortage areas in general and slum areas in particular to avoid rush, time spent walking long distance, waiting in queues.
- Extra provision should be arranged to supply water during the acute shortage period like in summer. Supply through water tanker two times in a day should be regularized to the un served and shortage locations.
- Surroundings of the water supply source should be immediately cleaned and hygiene conditions should be maintained including set up regulator, basement must be cemented, connection to drain to clear waste water and the old holed water supply pipes should be changed immediately to stop contamination of water.
- Children should be kept out of engaging in water collection and water fetching labors which affect their time to engage in reading, schooling, playing, meeting friends and networking among their communities.
- Mechanisms for institutional accountability should be put in place, which can be by means of an agreement between different institutions like the Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Public Health and Engineering Department, Government of Odisha as per the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act.
- Long term plan should be designed for bringing water from a major water source, construction of underground reservoirs and elevated storage reservoirs. For this the state government should make immediate budget provision and start the projects pending under approval.
- Last, but most importantly, all households, government offices and other buildings should be encouraged to construct proper rainwater harvesting structure to recharge ground water.
- Local or ward-wise civic clubs should be established by the BMC or PHED to deal with issues related to water supply. Monthly public meetings should be held by the BMC to discuss water supply issues.
In the 13th meeting of Berhampur Children federation more 170 children from 30 slums and 24 child club members participated and shared their concern on water supply. Child Club members like Sruti Sahu, K.Dipu, Smarakirani Nayak, Sunil Sethy and Amit Das shared their experience in the meeting. Youth for Social Development has been working to make Berhampur a ‘child friendly city’ by working with slums communities and children in 40 slums in the city to make Berhampur a safe, healthy and liveable city for children.