29Dec2016

Water is our right and we shall have it!

About 150 households of Kheda Khalilpur in Mewat district Haryana, had been without a reliable water supply for a very long time, which led to a series of problems. Villagers were forced to purchase water in tanks. But the cost of the water and the fact that they were not able to buy enough water to meet their needs led to further hardship. However, this changed when women in Kheda Khalilpur became well versed in procedures for bringing complaints through their village institutions.

The women first went to their village-level institution (the sarpanch, etc.) without results. But they did not give up. After knocking on all the doors and not receiving any positive response, they decided to go to the “CM window” (set up by the chief minister for grievance redressal) at Nuh.

When about two dozen women from Kheda Khalilpur reached Nuh, they stopped the district commissioner (DC) as he was leaving his office. The women described their hardship to the DC and asked for an immediate solution. The DC asked if more water tanks would solve their water scarcity problem. The women stood firm and said “no,” they did not want a temporary stopgap—they wanted a permanent solution.

The DC then asked Public Health Department officials to go to Kheda Khalilpur and evaluate the condition of water pipelines in the village. After checking the pipeline system and repairing some pipes, they promised a water supply starting the next day. The following morning, the taps of Kheda Khalilpur produced water! And the financial burden of the village households was abated. This success has empowered the women in Kheda Khalilpur and surrounding villages as well to speak up with confidence if a problem arises in their village.

(This story has been compiled by Naman Dubey from Nirma University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, who worked with the Policy, Governance, and Advocacy center at Sehgal Foundation as an intern from Nov 3-30, 2016.)