It was for an exposure visit that I was sent to the high range village of Kanakakkunnu, (which means ‘Golden Hill’) in the district of Idukki, kerala. It is around 30 km away from kattappana town, which is a main pocket in the district. My journey from kattappana to Kanakakkunnu was an exciting one in a small bus which was fully packed with students returning from schools. Kattappana has got good number of reputed English medium schools run by different religious orders of the Catholics. Of course, the other Christian denominations and religious organizations have also got their presence in the scenario. So, carrying the hopes and expectations of the poor villagers, students would travel up and down in search of knowledge.
The roads, of course, resembled life with ups and downs. At one moment, you will be finding your bus climbing the steep hill like a mountaineer and suddenly you may fly downwards the next moment. This process of going up and coming down continued till the end of the journey. The boy who stood near me was a talkative and he never allowed me enjoy my first trip through this area. He wanted to know everything about my job, the professional qualification that made me worthy to take up the job, its potential for the future and a number of other similar queries. At last, he got out after taking the link to my space in Orkut, a social website.
My mission was to visit some areas where my organization had taken up some projects to provide drinking water for the people with water scarcity and to collect their feedback. Due to the geographical and topographical specialties of the area all the water sources get dried up by the end of January every year. There begins the troubles and tribulations of the villagers, most of whom are daily wage earners. Many shared with me their experiences of sleepless nights near the streams to fetch water as it comes out. There were some others who started carrying water from certain far away sources at the tender age of ten.
This particular need of the villagers was identified by my agency in the year 2008. In collaboration with certain external agencies, they formulated a project to provide water tanks, with the capacity of 10000 liters, to the deserving families. The beneficiaries also agreed to contribute at least 10% of the total expense for the tank. Around fifty tanks were constructed at that time and the efforts of my agency were widely appreciated. It helped the people to collect rain water from their roof top into the tanks. The filtered water remains clean and hygienic throughout the year. A family with three or four members can make use of this water for their cooking needs during summer, four to five months.
Though there are a number of projects implemented by different agencies to make drinking water available to all like water shed management, rain water harvesting etc, the share that reaches the beneficiaries is very meager. I received a number of requests from people for assistance to construct more and more tanks. Every agency has got its own limitations. But we all can at least make people aware of the need to preserve water. It is good to have some first hand knowledge of the people’s struggle for water. It will make us more cautious while using any of the natural resources. Let there be water and let there be life for the generations to come.
(a rain water harvesting tank is seen in the photo)