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By 2030, Demand For Water Will Reach Twice The Available Supply In India

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“Water is the driving force of all nature” – Leonardo da Vinci.

It is a precious natural resource since it is essential for the survival of life on earth. The demand for water for human consumption is increasing rapidly day by day due to the accumulation of several factors. This crisis of water has recently gained momentum in India along with other developing countries of the world.

By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people.

After two consecutive years of weak monsoon, almost a quarter of the country’s population has been affected by severe droughts. According to Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) of NITI Aayog, 21 major cities including Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, and Hyderabad are racing to zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting almost 100 million people. The report also states that by 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual 6% loss of country’s GDP.

Various factors are working together in the direction of the water crisis in India. Some of the main reasons are:

  1. Increasing demand: Due to population growth, industrialization, rapid urbanization, increasing needs of irrigation, increase in domestic use, etc. have pushed the demand for water.
  2. Over-exploitation of groundwater and surface water.
  3. Water pollution: Release of industrial and domestic waste into rivers, lakes, and estuaries has polluted freshwater sources at an alarming rate in India. Those freshwater sources are not fit for drinking or other activities.
  4. Delay in monsoon and change in pattern.
  5. Shift in cash crops: Water is being diverted from food crops to cash crops that consume an enormous quantity of water.
  6. Deforestation and mismanagement of wetlands.

The water crisis has impacted India severely as is evident from the fact that nearly 50% of India is grappling with drought-like conditions prevailing particularly in western and southern states this year.

Some of the long term impacts include:

  • Reduction in economic growth.
  • Unavailability of water for irrigation, leading to poor production and agricultural crisis.
  • Shortage in power supply.
  • Scarcity of drinking water.
  • Climate change.

Looking at the current situation, there is a need for a paradigm shift. A recovery-based closed-loop system is the need of the hour. Some of the solutions which could be effective in dealing with the water crisis are listed below:

Rainwater Harvesting: India receives enough rainwater annually during monsoon. So rainwater harvesting should be encouraged in large scale, particularly, in cities where surface runoff of rainwater is very high. Rooftop rainwater can also be used to recharge groundwater by digging percolation pits around the house and filling it with gravels.

Moreover, traditional practices of rainwater harvesting like Jhalara, Bandhi, Bawari, Taanka, Ahar Pynes, Johads, Panam Keni, Khadin, Baoli, Bhandara Phad, Kulhs, Bamboo Drip Irrigation, etc., should be promoted on pan India basis.

2. Discouraging wasteful activities

3. Crop Diversification as a solution to reduce water usage in agriculture.

4. Micro-irrigation such as drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation should be promoted.

5. Conservation techniques like zero-tillage, raised-bed planting, and precision have shown good results in soil and water conservation but need further improvement in technology for wider acceptance.

6. Organic and nature-based farming: Studies have shown that organic farming conserves water by requiring less water in irrigation, and also helps in improving the water-storage capacity of soil by improving its health.

7. Use of wastewater: More than 50% of wastewater can be reused.

8. Aquifer recharge and rainwater conservation through community ponds and recharge wells should be promoted with the involvement of gram sabhas. Lessons can also be drawn from the work of Sankalpa Rural Development Society (SRDS) which has been training farmers of Karnataka on the revival of defunct borewells.

It is important to understand that managing the water situation is not the government’s job only, all stakeholders including hydrogeologists, economists, planners and most importantly, communities themselves have a huge part to play. Emphasis on behavioural change is not getting enough attention because it is nuanced and complex. By keeping in check our usage and actions, we can contribute.

Participatory governance is needed to govern water resources. India’s rivers and groundwater can be protected only if the integral interconnectedness of catchment areas, rivers, and rural and urban aquifers is properly recognized.

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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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