WATER WARS

A series by Zeba Zoariah Ahsan

Zeba Zoariah Ahsan, who hails from Duliajan, in the Dibrugarh district of Assam, is a water sector analyst currently based out of Shillong. As a top user on Youth Ki Awaaz, she has been relentlessly raising her voice against global water crisis, which she believes is an extremely multidimensional issue. Zeba completed her masters in Water Science and Governance from TERI SAS, and is presently working for Geo Climate Risk Solutions (GCRS), Pvt. Ltd. She is also assisting the Dept. of Water Resources under the Govt. of Meghalaya in preparing the State Specific Action Plan for the Water Sector. Her interests include governance related to the water sector, policy making, conflict management in the age of climate change, WASH and gender rights. Besides YKA, she also regularly writes for the Assam Tribune.

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600 million

people are facing high to extreme water stress.

75%

households do not have drinking water on premise.

21

major cities are heading towards zero groundwater levels by 2020.

70%

of our water is contaminated.

6%

is the estimated loss in the country's GDP because of water scarcity.

The water crisis in India is set to become even worse in the near future owing to climate change and anthropogenic activities. With the right dissemination of information and inducing behavioural change, as citizens we can make a difference for good. This series, curated by Zeba, aims to showcase how the water crisis is also impacted by gender, caste, region and power, shaping the question of access and equity around water resources. It also focuses on transboundary water sharing and the need to have better hydro-diplomacy with our neighbours. More importantly, this series aims to reiterate that water is a basic human right and there can be no sustainable development if these basic rights are not valued.

How is the water crisis affecting you? Share your experiences, reports or opinions on how this issue can be addressed.

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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