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#WaterCrisis: Ever Wondered How Much Water YOU Waste (And Can Save) Daily?

When environmentalists and water-conservationists say that water is blue gold, that it is precious and we need to save it, most of us turn a blind eye to their warning. The general tendency is to assume that since we’re getting water 24 hours 7 days a week, there is no water shortage and hence, no need for its conservation. Three words- WE ARE WRONG!

Although we do not realise the consequences of this crisis, with other ‘major’ issues like the plastic menace and global warming surrounding us and being the more regular topics of discussion, water shortage is the most pressing problem currently, especially in India. With every day that this problem is not catered to and disregarded by us like a trivial issue that is left unattended, it is getting bigger and more acute. And if we still don’t realise how big of an issue it has already become, here is a brief about what happened, and is still happening, in Chennai.Chennai went without a drop of rain for 200 days straight. People there are experiencing their worst water crisis in thirty years. People are fighting for water. House water supply has dropped to just 10%.

Photo by Praful Gangurde/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

So yes, it is that serious. The citizens of Chennai are facing water shortage problems for real, and it is way worse to experience it than to just talk about it. The four major reservoirs supplying drinking water to the city have been reduced to just 1% of their capacity worth of water.

Now the question for people living in other parts of the world is, ‘Why should it worry us?’ ‘Why do we need to worry about what is happening in Chennai when we are living in Delhi, or Mumbai, or whichever city in the world?’. Well, as a matter of fact, this is not happening for the first time. It has happened before in Cape Town, South Africa.

It is predicted that 21 cities in India including, Delhi and Bangalore, are going to run out of groundwater as early as 2020. So it’s happening, and it’s happening fast, and the later we start working towards it, the bigger and tougher the task will get. I’m reiterating the point over and over again, but we have to realise that this is should be a prime concern at the moment. Not to say issues like illiteracy and poverty are not important and should not be addressed, of course they should, we need to shift our focus to this highly alarming concern which can soon have dire consequences.

On an average, a human being cannot live for more than 10 days without water. We literally cannot live without water, so what can be more important than finding a solution to fix this problem.

Now, once we realize that water shortage is an issue that needs to be catered to, it comes down to the question- ‘what can WE do about it?’. We the young adults need to work more on this problem and not use any excuse like ‘We’re just kids, what can we do’. For my generation, I’m going to suggest a couple of things we all can do to conserve water.

Firstly, and you might have heard this everywhere, but stop taking a shower, and use a bucket instead, to bathe. An average showerhead – even if it claims to be the kind that saves water uses 5-7 litres of water per minute. That means a 10-minute shower takes about 50-70 litres of water, not to mention the water wasted at the start of the shower while adjusting the water temperature. So if you take longer showers, maybe for 20 minutes or 30 minutes, or even longer, you are wasting a LOT of water.

The bucket, on the other hand, uses maximum of 20 litres of water, so even if you use 1.5 or 2 buckets, you use less amount of water. Now people might say it’s just 10 litres or 20 litres saved, but that’s for a day. Imagine saving that quantity water for a week (70-140 litres), for a month (300-600 litres) and even for a year (3,650-7,300 litres) per person. A family of four means around 20,000 litres. Now that is a lot. And every drop counts.

Secondly, I’m sure most of you have got an RO plant installed for clean drinking water at home. I’m not sure all of you know this, but for every 1 litre of filtered water that is produced, it discharges 5 litres of water which goes straight down the drain. The average human consumption of water is about 3 litres, so that means for your daily consumption of clean water, 15 litres of water is going down the drain. And if there are 4 members in the family, 60 litres of water daily or 20,000 litres a year going down the drain. And it is not like this water cannot be used. If we collect this water and store it, we can water our plants with it, we can wash our cars or clothes with it and we can do many more things with this large amount of water collected daily.

Coming back to the main point, water is blue gold. This problem needs our immediate attention and, if worked in the right direction, like other problems we have been able to resolve, water shortage can be tackled too. Prevention really is better than cure and it is up to us to either realise the seriousness of the problem and solve it, or face the unimaginable and unwanted consequences, and then try to fix it once it’s too late. And I am not saying that we should compromise on our basic needs- we shouldn’t stop drinking water or stop taking a bath. All I’m saying is stop using the shower, start collecting the clean water that’s going down the drain.

By all this I mean stop wasting water without compromising on your necessities while making sure you’re being sustainable. Wasting as a term literally means ‘to use or expend carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose’. So if you’re using water to fulfill your needs, you aren’t ‘wasting’ it; you are just using it because you need it. Just following these couple of steps means you, by yourself, save around 11,000 litres per year. And yeah, that’s you doing all this. That’s you saving so much water, on your own. That’s the change you can make, that’s the power you possess to change the world. In fact, that’s the power we all possess. And if we unite and start working towards this cause, there’s nothing but success on the other end and we can definitely make this world water-sufficient.

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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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