According to the most recent Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) Report by UNICEF and WHO, 97% of people in urban areas and 90% in rural areas have access to safe water. Access to sanitation is much lower, with 58% of urban and 23% of rural dwellers using improved sanitation facilities. These numbers, however, do not provide an accurate and complete picture of water and sanitation access in India. Across the country, there is a wide disparity in access to safe water and sanitation among districts, and in the rural areas where Water For People-India works access is significantly lower. In the target district of Sheohar, access to safe drinking water is estimated at 57% and access to improved sanitation facilities is as low as 14%.
Water For People began working in India in 1996, with a small pilot project in West Bengal to help eliminate naturally occurring arsenic in water supplies. In 2005, Water For People established a full-fledged country program with an office in Kolkata, and by the end of 2010 had programming in six districts in West Bengal. Recently, Water For People relocated its head office to Delhi and expanded work to urban areas and Sheohar, which is located in the state of Bihar.
Programming includes water, sanitation, and health and hygiene education in schools and communities in six districts in West Bengal: South 24 Parganas, East Medinipur, North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Purulia, and Murshidabad; and one district in Bihar: Sheohar. Water For People–India is also expanding its work to include pilot sanitation programs in urban areas.
Everyone Forever in India
Everyone Forever is a unique programmatic effort to provide water and sanitation to Everyone in targeted districts and municipalities, Forever. It means these districts and communities never again need another international water agency to address their water challenges. And it provides a model for greater replication, leading to a push for national full water and sanitation coverage. Water For People-India is focusing its Everyone Forever efforts in Sagar and Pathar Pratima blocks in South 24 Parganas, Kashipur block in Purulia, and the district of Sheohar.
Water For People believes long-lasting water and sanitation solutions can be achieved when key local role- players—the private sector, civil society, and local government—are supported in a way that enables them to understand and act upon their areas of responsibility and support community water supply and sanitation development. As such, Water For People convenes, partners, and builds the skills of the district governments where programming is targeted, Bengal Engineering and Science University, local self-help groups (SHGs) and community based organizations (CBOs), and over 12 local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Work in 2012
In 2012, Water For People–India will implement programming in over 180 communities and 55 schools in the target areas of West Bengal. In the district of Sheohar, Water For People–India will continue to build out its plan for Everyone Forever with local partners and will implement its first community and school projects. In addition, a full baseline assessment of Sheohar using Akvo FLOW will take place in September to collect more precise data on the current water and sanitation situation.