Drinking Water Woes – Rural India

As Indians, we like to take a lot for granted. The availability of safe, clean drinking water would definitely rank among the top needs of any population, rural or urban. However, only a very minor segment of society currently has this luxury. Our fellow citizens in rural India are still worse off and oftentimes lack even basic amenities. With over 60% of the population of India living in villages they are denied this basic need of clean and safe drinking water. The central / state government, NGOs and private institution working alone and collectively have been unable to find a solution to the chronic issue at hand despite the very noble initiatives that mandates corporations to commit to CSR 2% of their profits. The government has spent more than $20 billion in the last 2 decades to address this issue, but there still remains a lot to be done. The Central Government has planned to spend another $10 Billion in the 12th Year Five Year Plan. As per the last survey only 85 percent rural households have access to sufficient drinking water. More than half of the rural population still depends on tube well / borehole as their principal source of drinking water. Even for the households with access to drinking water, a disproportionate number don’t have access to it in close proximity of their houses. More than 10% have to travel over 200 meters in search of drinking water. On an average a person spends every day travelling 20 minutes to get water from outside the premises while the wait time in addition to it is another 15 minutes. 84% of the time the women of the house had to fetch water from long distances made famous in the advertisement by Visa showing women walking long distances carrying water on their heads. The problem is the worst in the state of Jharkhand with an average travelling time of nearly 40 minutes and a wait time of nearly 22 minutes. The problems associated with drinking water don’t end here. Treatment of drinking water is an important determinant of quality of drinking water and hygienic living. While we take treatment of water before consumption as a given, less than 33% of the people in rural India treat water by some method before drinking. Majority of the households 58.8% used a vessel without a handle for taking out stored drinking water adding to the hygiene woes not only to themselves but their fellow villagers. Open defecation, untreated flow of sewage, industrial waste add to the problem of India’s drinking water problem. The problem of safe drinking water is not a standalone problem it can be solved with education, better sanitation and overall development. At Quantta we highlight the problems of India both at macro and micro geographic levels to enable policy makers to direct their energy and resources to solving the most critical problems. Source of Data: Quantta, MDWS & NSSO