9 Powerful Photos By A Slum Resident That Capture A Delhi Slum’s Daily Struggle With Water

Posted on August 17, 2015 in Down To Earth, Environment, Lists, Staff Picks

By DTE Staff:

Note: This article has been republished from Down To Earth

Water in the slums of Delhi affects every aspect of daily life, from monsoon flooding to the daily struggle for clean drinking water.
In South Delhi’s Jagdamba Camp, water comes from communal pipes twice a day, from 5 am to 10 am in the morning and from 4 pm to 10 pm in the evening. People use the same water for bathing and drinking. Nobody monitors the water quality.
Houses ‘in the basement’ of Jagdamba Camp are particularly vulnerable. Before the monsoon, people pile up mud to try to stop them from flooding, and prevent stagnant pools in which mosquitoes can breed.
Jagdamba Camp’s centralised water system is a network of pipes, with both, motorised and hand-held pumps. Several houses have also installed their own private pumps.
A boy pushes a cart laden with water. Old jerry cans, water bottles, paint containers, soft drink bottles, buckets – anything can be used as a vessel. Reusing such plastics is a matter of necessity.
Here, a boy sucks on a pipe to get the water flowing. Men rarely fetch water, says Suraj, because they don’t want to get involved in the gossiping and quarelling. It is not uncommon for a woman to spend up to two hours each day pumping and transporting enough water for the family. Children help, once they reach the age of twelve or so.
The Jagdamba Camp nullah, or drain, runs past a mosque that was deliberately extended to block the smell, because it was disturbing the worshippers. Such open drains are the norm in Delhi slums. They carry untreated sewage and waste directly into the Yamuna river: the 22km stretch from Wazirabad to Okhla accounts for over 70 per cent of the river’s total pollution.
The spirit of jugaad (innovation) is a part of everyday life here. A pipe can be a handy belt to carry another bucket – not to mention a fashion accessory. Survival is a matter of improvisation.
These photos were taken by Suraj, a Jagdamba Camp resident. He has studied photography for the past three years with Kid Powered Media, an NGO dedicated to helping disadvantaged kids tell their stories.