Archana Devi, wife of Shiv Narayan Pandit, lives in Samastipur block of Bihar. Her husband works as a cook at a hotel in Mumbai. The family depends on his earnings, while Archana manages the home and their six-member family.
Archana is a Swasthya Saheli, of the “Jaagruk Mahila Swasthya Pariwar” project in her village, supported by a CSR partner and implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation. This project empowers rural women on preventive care for common ailments, reproductive and child health, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and informs about health-related government programs.
In June 2020, she attended a training on safe drinking water by the trainer Saket Kumar, organized by the project. Here she learned about waterborne diseases including skin diseases, diarrhoea, and other gastroenteritis ailments. Upon hearing this, Archana remarked that her family suffered from similar symptoms as mentioned. She elaborated that though the government’s Nal Jal Yojana is being implemented, this water supply being irregular, requires the people, including herself, to use hand pumps for their water requirements. The underground water in this region is of poor quality, having a foul smell, and it turns yellowish upon storage for a short duration.
The project team proposed a solution in the form of installing household biosand filters to purify the unclean water.
Biosand filters developed by S M Sehgal Foundation are easy and no-frills, use local material, and have excellent performance in combating waterborne aliments such as (bacterial) E Coli, Shigella and V cholera; (viral) Hepatitis A and Rota Virus; and (parasitic) E histolytica, Giardia, and hook worms. Iron, arsenic, manganese, and turbidity are also removed by it. These stainless steel biosand filters are appropriate for rural areas, like Ratanpura, as they are cost effective, ultra portable and need little maintenance.
Impressed with this information, Archana installed the filter at her home, and now her family drinks clean water, which is also used for cooking food. The family has experienced relief in gastroenteritis health issues, and have noticed the improved taste and white color of their cooked rice, which was previously brownish.
Authors: Mati Murmu and Ellora Mubashir
(Mati Murmu is project coordinator, S M Sehgal Foundation, Samastipur and Ellora Mubashir is communications specialist, Partnerships, S M Sehgal FOundation)