Strengthening Basic Amenities in Low Income Settlements

Water is very essential for survival. Without water, life would be non-existent on planet earth. Although water is not expensive, but its availability is scarce in our country. Both availability and quality of drinking water in urban and rural areas are a cause of concern. On one hand, rural areas rely mainly on traditional sources of water, like rivers, ponds, wells and more recently tube-wells. On other hand, urban areas that get water from municipal authorities suffer more as the quantity is limited and water sources are contaminated with both bio and chemical pollutants. 21% of the diseases reported in India are water related, which is a reflection of the gravity of the situation.

Hydration, having enough water in the body is our primary requirement. We can survive without food for days, provided our body is hydrated enough to carry the bodily functions. Our body uses water in every activity that we do and the majority of it is supplied with drinking water. But when water is scarce, it causes dehydration, which leads to many problems. An even worse scenario is the consumption of polluted water. Water borne diseases are responsible for a large number of fatalities in India. Children in nearly 100 million homes in our country lack water, resulting in malnourishment in early age. All this leads to poor health, high medical costs and less efficiency, further aggravating the vicious cycle of poverty. Look at the staggering figures below, which shows how much effect poor water quality has on our economy, thus hampering the growth.

environment health economic alok singhal

Closely related to the problem of proper drinking water is sanitation. Each day an average of 5,000 people die due to water and sanitation diseases that are easily preventable. The problem of sanitation, just like water is serious in low income settlements of urban areas or in rural part of the country. Slums of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi are breeding grounds for diseases for its inhabitants. Old methods of portable toilets and latrines aggravates the situation as the number of people using these facilities in low income settlements is high in comparison to facilities. Also, we don’t have a good sewage system. Another major problem is defecating in open. 600 million people defecate in open in India, increasing the intensity of sanitation problem.

population defecate india

The solution provided by our government has been ineffective due to population, corruption and improper implementation. Both the unavailability of proper drinking water and sanitation has led to a surge in diseases like – diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and even more serious ones like polio, infectious hepatitis, measles and malaria. The cumulative effect of both these problems has resulted in bad living conditions, increased medical expenses and poor growth of society. Our country’s sanitation is worse even in comparison with African nations (see chart below). And sadly, it is our children who bear the brunt of this problem.

sanitation india alok

The need of the hour is to develop and implement a program which solves the problem by teaching those who can bring a sustainable change. One such initiative is launched by Coca-Cola in association with TERI University and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) known as Strengthening Water and Sanitation in Urban Settings in Kolkata. The WASH Programs under this initiative are designed to provide Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities to low income settlements. WASH Programs target to reach out to 50,000 beneficiaries in low income settlements and over 300 professionals and 2,500 children in municipal schools. Its aim is to teach and spread awareness, and only that can bring continued benefits and achieve a long term solution.

To be able to give our children a bright future, we need to provide basic facilities – water, sanitation and hygiene. It is only then we can dream of becoming a developed nation in the near future.

46 thoughts on “Strengthening Basic Amenities in Low Income Settlements

  1. This is a very good initiative by Coca Cola. We’ve almost lost our fresh water as most of the urban houses run on ROs, and the fresh water sources in the rural areas are also vanishing as can be seen on tv. I think a time will come when the person having access to fresh, clean water shall be considered richest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure if the companies like coca cola are undertaking social initiatives as merely an eye wash to improve the public image. In small town called chomu, which is situated some 40 km from jaipur, Rajasthan coca cola started a new bottling unit in Kaladera Industrial area few years back. Since this has been one of the most fertile area in this part of Rajasthan because of good ground water availability, agriculture forms the back bone of this area. The farmers too are quite prosperous. After the coca cola started the bottling plant the ground water level went down drastically, affecting the farmers and agriculture adversely.This caused massive agitation and led to public uproar.
    I can’t say for all, but for majority of corporate world, CSR is merely a tool to improve public image. There are exceptions of course and some of them are actually doing great work and do not highlight such initiative to garner publicity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know about this issue…thank you for sharing. I am not sure what is the deal behind all this, but what i can say is whatever they do at least they are taking a step and maybe providing employment also; otherwise, government doesn’t do anything anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes Alok Singal the water is going to be the biggest and most expensive commodity in the coming years….The depletion of ground water is decreasing and less initiative for water replenishment … Proper drinking water is going to become , population is increasing demand for water is on higher side , manufacturing and other industries uses lot water , hardly any initiative from them to replenish the water source ….Right Now i am reading a book called Water Peace& War, The contamination of water is taking place so fast in rural and urban areas…even the industrial units is having very scant regard for the law…pollution of water is left for the people to fight for……Any way very important issue you have bought to limelight….I contemplating to write something on this issue in my blog soon….Congrats good one with statics…Keep writing Enjoy…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for appreciating and adding, Prakash.

      Availability of drinking water is going to be a serious problem for us in the coming decades. I hope such initiatives do something good for us!


  4. Issue of great topicality, Alok. MNC beverage companies like coca cola and Pepsi must be straightway banned from India in the interest of public health and environment. What these outfits are doing is to tap the precious, freely available, ground water table, and convert it to soft drinks and sell it to people to make a fast buck. It is not only depleting our water resources but the end product is harmful to public health (the harmful content of cola drinks are too well-known to merit repetition here). Coca Cola had a bottling unit in plaachimada in rural Kerala, which was forcibly shut down due to public furore on depletion of ground water and shortage of water for farming. The other requirement is to promote rain water harvesting in a big way. Presently it is being done by high rise apartment complexes in few metro cities, and the same must be extended to rural areas on a mission footing. It will help to tide over water shortage during summer season and serve as a back up in drought conditions. Provision of toilets country wide, aimed at eliminating open defecation, is of utmost importance to avoid infection and contamination of groundwater. Water must be treated as one of our most valuable resources, and used as conservatively, and maintained as sustainably as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perfectly valid points you have mentioned and i appreciate you adding them here, Sir. Rain water harvesting is an urgent need for us, and some countries are doing well on the same.

      I also wish all basic amenities (primarily sanitation) are provided to all in any country.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have learned that I can live without mobilephone, television, and even my precious laptop but I can not live without clean water. I remember we were in a boat with broken engines in the middle of nowhere. There were seawater here and there but we could not drink was awful. I wish lots of developing countries government realized this and focus more on improving their water services to their citizens. Great post, Alok!

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  6. India is talking about smart cities, but we people fail to fulfill some basic needs.
    Impure water is something, that bring diseases and many of us die every year suffering severe from them… very nice initiative…

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  7. Although the initiative is good and praiseworthy, it should be noted that the products these companies are selling are equally harmful if not more….. Soft drinks are extremely harmful for our system and most of us actually underrate its harmful nature… It has nothing good in it… Even consuming alcohol in moderate dose has some health benefits… Having soft drinks are quite equal to taking some slow acting poisons…..


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  8. Thanks Alok, I really liked the detailed statistics in this post. Sanitation is a very important issue which needs multilayered approach to solve. With this initiative in the CSR front and a combination of activities by the government and community participation, maybe we can get closer to the goal of a cleaner country.

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  9. I have been reading about this :

    The Ganges’s waters are not just dirty, they are toxic.

    A fecal coliform count exceeding 50 per 100 ml of water and 500 per 100 ml is considered unsafe for drinking and bathing respectively. For agricultural use, the count must not cross 5,000. But the Ganges’s average fecal coliform count overshoots these limits drastically – as it exits Varanasi, for instance, the count is between 1-2 million per milliliter of water – which means that its water is lethal for drinking, bathing and even irrigation.

    Domestic sewage is the primary cause of the Ganges’s contamination. Some 2,723 million liters a day (MLD) of sewage is generated by 50 cities located along the river, accounting for 85 percent of its pollution. As for toxic chemicals polluting the Ganges, tanneries are the main culprit, although pulp and paper mills generate the most waste water.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your post has prompted some good discussion. I was reading through the comments, and I had no idea North American soft drink companies were so flagrantly abusing India’s water supply. That is heartbreaking to read.

    Thank you for sharing this information with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Some really serious stats shared Alok. I am surprised to see 58% of world population (from India) forced to defecate in open. This is very concerning trend which authorities needs to look into. A welcome initiative by Coca Cola. Hope more companies and other organizations pitch in with these initiatives for the betterment of society.

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  12. Alok, you captured a very light reality… I think generally Indian Society don’t believe in clean toilets for everyone somehow… even the well to do like us use public toilets while travelling and charges range from Rs 3 to 5 for it, pay toilets though not clean I think are revenue source for authorithies:… anyway I think you tell others not to waste water, do water harvesting, use solar energy like solar cooker etc which can be done by everyone. If more water goes to the ground water, more water will come up, but these days lakes and many water sources are dried up which is plain sad):… anyway. There is a story in a village where a 60 year old man married 4 wives, just to fetch water for the family… after 1st wife got pregnant, she could not fetch water so he married another wife and so on… more wives equal to more water etc… and the open defacation.. its quite a shame, did you hear Vidya Balan’s campaign?… really I wish we all can motivate villagers or others to built basic toilets… it must be easy and simple… I don’t undrstand many things and I can’t discuss them too…such as why in train their have toilets so that waste fall on rails etc, and I don’t understand why these dog owners think their pets can also do everything in the open and dirty roads, abroad they have to clean it up(:… I think we really got lot to do in the toilet forefront. You know Sudha Murthy and another women who were first women engenears studied in colleges which had no ladies toilet because only guys did engeanearing those days, no toilets for the ladies ): … anyway… I think all the civil engenears and all should design plans for simple toilets… its possible for sure… even some portable tolets for the poor forks… and lots of awarenss on keeping the toilet clean as well…anyway… goodday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right, we can all do our bit in this respect. Also, each government should also pitch in to provide basic amenities like water and toilets to all its people.
      Sadly, this is an issue which still needs addressing and some people and private companies have taken the initiative to clean this mess up.

      Hopefully something works out soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. yeah… I am sure there are simple solutions too for water purification… a simple water filter, or boil water provision, or introducing some filtration process that can be implemented by everyone… even kids in school projects to amazing inventions, I don’t see why their creativity as adults is numbed by these corporate jobs anyway(:… even Indus Valley people had good drainage provision, so primitive people more wiser than us… shrugs… you know lots of rivers and lakes in India gone for ever… why public become like some I don’t know, just living but not living completely, they are missing on better lifestyle in the long run… anyway… I went to my village, or town and I was helpless in garbage segregation because we are so used to it in Bangalore… lots of work to be done… community involvement…anyway


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