By Rusen Kumar
DS Group constantly nurtures its responsibility as a committed corporate citizen by regarding Corporate Social Responsibility as an integral part of its Business Objectives. The Company has been working on programs pan India with special focus on the North East. The CSR programs range from education to health to safe drinking water to making tribal & ethnic communities self reliant.
The Company has recently taken a significant step by starting a pilot project to address the most critical and essential need of providing a solution for safe drinking water in the region. The pilot project is being implemented in the Kamrup District of Assam, where 15 Villages in Chandrapur Block and 10 Villages in Palasbari Block have been identified so far. The Group has partnered with Pratinidhi Samiti – an NGO reputed and experienced in implementing such projects across the country. The pilot project is initiated with the community participation focusing on sustainability.
In India, the World Bank estimates that 21 per cent communicable diseases are related to unsafe drinking water and diarrhoea alone causes more than 1,600 deaths per day. In Assam the statistics are even more dismal as a significant number of people in the State are afflicted with water borne diseases which entails a huge loss in productivity, negatively impacting growth of GDP .
DS Mobile Clinics – the health initiative of the group, is an effort to address the basic health needs of people in remote and far flung areas where medical help is not easily available. The lack of proper medical facilities in remote areas poses a major setback to the health of the communities in the region. Regular medical camps are conducted by the Mobile Clinics to address this gap. During these camps it was found that most of the patients including children suffer from water born diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, etc. The above diseases are primarily due to consumption of contaminated water / water containing bacteria. Thus DS Group decided to initiate a pilot project to promote the safe drinking water practices in the rural communities of Assam.
The Project Concept
The aim of the pilot project to facilitate and sustain the availability of the affordable solution for the safe drinking water to the low income group communities.
The project follows a progressive methodology :
In the beginning of the pilot project a need assessment survey or research was conducted to collate the information on water source, collection practices, usage patterns and understanding the frequency of water borne diseases. The research findings also indicate that a major section of the community is not aware about safe drinking water practices and has high instances of water borne diseases specially in children.
A three-day behavior change model has been designed to sensitize the communities on Safe Drinking Water practices, which includes the water testing, sharing information related to consumption of drinking water and demonstration of the efficacy and usage of the water purification product. The information, education and communication material have been developed to organize the participatory awareness generation event.
The DS Group has associated with Aquatabs, an international brand patronized by UN and WHO, to ensure the availability of low cost water purification product at the community level. Aquatabs are world largest selling and affordable water purification tablets.
To ensure the sustainable impact of the pilot project, Pani Bandhu – community level entrepreneurs have been trained and instated. The “Pani Bandhu” is a link to ensure the continuous availability of water purification product in the community and also clarify the queries & doubts of the community.
Post the Project, there would be a general awareness importance of the safe drinking water and solution would be readily available to the communities. This project would also lead to livelihood opportunity for local youths as “Pani Bandhus”
At the end of the project, an assessment will be done to understand the response of the community towards the pilot project and acceptability of the water purification product. On the basis of finding the pilot project will be replicated in various suitable places and leanings will be incorporated in the methodology.
(Rusen Kumar is the Editor at INDIACSR. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)