As part of their efforts to deal with water scarcity across the country, last Tuesday the Indian government revealed plans to employ women in rural areas to test water quality, reports Bloomberg. Federal minister for women and child development Smriti Irani said women in 256 districts experiencing water shortages will receive training, a programme that will be later expanded to India’s 750,000 villages. The women’s role will be to ensure a clean water supply for their community.
World Bank estimates indicate that problems with water shortages, sanitation and hygiene cost India about 0.8% of its GDP. Modi’s government, in its ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’, said it intends to achieve a New India by 2022 as the country celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence, focusing on GDP growth. But water availability per person is in decline and up to 70% of surface water is not suitable for consumption.
The announced initiative to train women is part of the government’s current conservation plans. Minister Irani was at the Bloomberg Equality Summit, held last Tuesday in Asia for the first time. She said the government is doing more to ensure Indian women have equal opportunities to participate in the economy, and would like to ensure they are better paid, and have access to credit.
India’s National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) aims to provide adequate safe water for drinking, cooking and other domestic basic needs on a sustainable basis. Most of rural India faces severe water quality problems. As WaterAid India has pointed out, it is usually women who use and manage water at the household level; it is therefore essential they are trained and engage in water quality monitoring at the community level in rural India, though the use of field testing kits. According to the non-profit, when women participate in water management and quality monitoring, their communities get measurable better outcomes: better water quality, improved access, and economic and environmental benefits.