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Adivasi Villagers in Ganjam district learn to monitor water quality

Ganjam: The households of Biluamara village of Jagannathprasad block in Ganjam district started receiving piped water supply in 2006 which proved a boon for the 35 Adivasi families of the village who used to spend hours fetching water daily.

However, the village saw a sudden spurt in water-borne diseases among children and adults. To help the villagers deal with the issue, a VISP called a ‘water quality cadre’ has been assigned the responsibility to monitor the water quality, and facilitate in the rectification of issues.

A resident of Biluamara village, 26 year old Sanju Jani, became a trained Poshan Mitra in the Gram Vikas programme in 2022 to ensure access to safe water  to the villagers free of bacteria, nitrates, and other particulate matter.

She is one of the 84 Poshan Mitras in the Ganjam district of Odisha, among whom 24 are women. She also works with Van Surakshya Samiti’s forest department.

In a training she learned about the testing protocol and using field testing kits (FTKs) to test water quality from the source, main pipeline, and household.

Water testing involves several aspects such as water quality management, uploading the results of water tests and sanitary surveys to the mWater app, and testing water samples collected from water sources using Field Testing Kits (FTKs).

At first Sanju was not sure for being a Poshan Mitras and use online apps. “Although I own a smartphone, I was not comfortable filling out online forms and uploading information to the mWater app. Due to my lack of technology expertise, I was unsure how to handle the role,” she shared.

She was provided with Fluoride Test Kits (FTKs). Every year, pre-monsoon and post-monsoon water quality testing are conducted.

A sanitary survey was conducted in Biluamara that revealed damage in the pipeline, resulting in water contamination. Sanju organised a meeting on awareness of water quality management based on the survey results.

While the residents learned about the health risks of contaminated water and water-borne diseases, Sanju convinced the VDC members to repair the pipeline and clean the water tank.

Several meetings were held to make the village residents aware of water quality and hygiene practices. Sanju persuaded all the 35 families residing in the village to contribute to repairing the damaged pipeline and cleaning the overhead water tank.

“We were able to solve the water contamination problem in our village. At first, we did not believe Sanju when she spoke to us about the contamination of the drinking water with bacteria. However, with the water pipeline repair, the problem is now completely solved,” says Bijay Jani, 55, a farmer and a village committee member of Biluamara village.

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