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Wake Up And See How The Water You Waste For Fun Sake Affects The Earth: [World Water Day Part-1]

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By Dr. Amrit Patel:

Water is a natural phenomenon and is the life line for human survival and a critical material foundation for sustainable social and economic development. Water supports health and livelihoods, grows food, powers industry and cools generating plants and these different uses can no longer be seen in isolation from each other. Unless these competing needs are balanced, water security will remain elusive, undermining development gains and the quality of millions of people in India, especially poor. Its renewable availability is finite and vulnerable to depletion and degradation. Water for Life Decade [2005-15] and the World Water Day being held on March 22 every year has significance to create awareness among all stakeholders that water is finite, scarce, costly and precious and, therefore, should be efficiently managed for country’s sustainable development.

rain water harvesting
According to the World Resources, a publication of UN Environment Program “the world’s thrust for water is likely to become one of the most pressing resource issues of the 21st century”. A variety of issues need focused attention such as climate change, trans-boundary waters, water-related risk management, managing and protecting water resources, investment in water research, development and management. Future of water resources ‘does not only rest on technological progress, but also and mostly on political commitments’. An effective consultation, cooperation and coordination among technocrats, policy makers, local authorities, research institutes, governments and water users for sustainable water development is necessary.

Participants of World Water Council in March 2009 in Istanbul recognized that water is an increasingly vital resource in the 21st century, when the world is challenged by overpopulation, climate change, ecosystem collapse, urbanization, consumption pattern changes and financial crisis.

Food security: In developing countries including India, drought is ranked as the most common cause of severe food shortages, responsible for more deaths than any other natural disaster over the last century. The lack of sustainable access to water can undermine food security and add to resource tensions, which potentially lead to conflict. Food security entails access to sufficient, safe and nutritious foods. Water deeply impacts global food security due to its role in agricultural production and overall health. The United Nations had made food security the focus of the World Water Day in 2012 because of rising food insecurity worldwide stemming from increasingly strained resources, volatile food prices, erratic weather conditions and deepening malnourishment. Today, seven billion people must be fed; by 2050, two billion more people are expected. Lack of water contributes to famine and undernourishment. Erratic rainfall, floods and droughts can cause temporary food shortages and even food emergencies. Water is also essential for animals; livestock deaths due to lack of water can cause substantial loss of livelihood for families. Climate change, being associated with higher global temperatures and increasingly erratic climate patterns, such as droughts, tornadoes, cyclones and floods, can severely impact the availability and distribution of rainfall, snowmelt, river flows and groundwater. Climate-related disasters can disrupt water supplies, cause deterioration of water quality, destroy agriculture sources and cripple infrastructure. Flooding in increasingly over-populated urban areas and coastal cities has caused severe displacement in vulnerable regions worldwide.

Indian Scenario: India’s population is 15% of the world’s population but has only about 4% of the world’s fresh water resources. Much of these are unevenly distributed. Average annual rainfall in the country is about 1,170 mm, which corresponds to an annual precipitation [including snowfall] of 4,000 billion cubic meters [BCM]. Nearly 75% of this [3000bcm] occurs during the monsoon season, confined generally to 3-4 months [June to September] a year. According to the Planning Commission, India has so far created a total of about 225 billion cubic meters [BCM] of surface storage capacity. However, per capita storage capacity in India at 190 cubic meters is very less compared to USA [5,961], Australia [4,717], Brazil [3,388] and China [2,486]. This necessitates creation of large storage facilities for maximum utilization of the run-off.

Water availability: Though the average water availability in India remains more or less fixed according to the natural hydraulic cycle, per capita availability is reducing progressively owning to the increasing population. In 1991, the average figure was around 2,200 cubic meters [cm], which has fallen to about 1829 cm. It may further go down to about 1340 cm and 1140 cm a year by 2025 and 2050 respectively. The situation in some of the river basins is worrisome. According to international agencies, any region with per capita water availability of less than 1700 cm is considered ‘water stressed’ and those with less than 1000 cm ‘water scarce’. Already six river basins of the country fall in the ‘water scarce’ category, and five more basins are likely to be ‘water scarce’ during 2025-50. Only 3-4 basins will be ‘water sufficient’. Water availability both in quantity and quality has been on the decline over the past 3-4 decades because of gross mismanagement of the available water resources and environmental degradation. Our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh on August 18, 2009 on the opening day of the conference of Environment Ministers said, ‘Climate change is threatening our ecosystems; water scarcity is becoming a way of life and pollution is a growing threat to our health and habitat’. He further expressed his concern that ‘rivers all over India are still being degraded’. Not only per capita availability of water in the country is already low but also there is enormous wastage, growing pollution and contamination of surface as well as groundwater.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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