Women of Uttar Pradesh in northern India are sticking up for their families and their needs by joining together and working to secure and improve their water resources.The groups they are forming are called the paani panchayat. The groups now have more than 3,000 women members, and form 96 different groups in the three disticts of Jalaun, Lalitpur and Hamirpuani.
This summer the region faced huge water shortages due to farmers stealing water to irrigate crops, little rainfall, and little help from the government about it all.
The dalit women work to create more water resources, revive old ones and conserve the natural bodies of water from which they get the water they need to survive. Another one of their main goals is to increase women’s participation in decision-making.
For example, the group from Gahuli village revived their pond which was contamined and unuseable. They have created strict rules to protect it. Before, the village’s solid and liquid waste was being dumped into the pond, contaminating the water that the people pumped for their families and causing illnesses.
In the past, the village had water harvesting tanks, but they had been worn down due to use of them by the local people and the lack of maintenance by the government. The groups have gotten more hand pumps installed so everyone can have easier access.
Another issue that has been affecting the young girls of the village is the long distance that they have to travel fetching water every day. Their health is directly affected because they have to carry water pails on their heads across town and their hair is falling out. The paani panchayat are demanding piping for the village in order to get rid of this problem.
By: Bridgette Potts