Indira Khurana, Simi Mehta, Ritika Gupta, Amita Bhaduri

It Is widely accepted that Water, sanitation, and hygiene are some of the most important sectors of human wellbeing and development, rather it is one of the most essential parts of achieving sustainable development. Despite that, the supply of clean, drinkable water in major areas of the world is a luxury Whereas climate change proposes a different threat to these sectors, as people in poor countries who are living on the brink of climate change are the worst affected, they not only are least protected but also the most vulnerable in these environments.  

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To address these issues and to deliberate them Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD), IMPRI  IMPRI Impact and Policy Research InstituteTarun Bhagat SanghIndia, Water Portal, and Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan organized a talk under #WaterAndClimate on Climate Change Mitigation: An Agenda for WASH Sector Organizations.

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Climate linkages of WASH

V R Raman, Head of Policy, WaterAid India, New Delhi. He is a public policy expert with over 25 years of experience in multiple human development sectors. His involvement has been in research, advocacy, administration, implementation, and teaching of various aspects of public policies and programs, in different states of India and globally- associated with government agencies, large-scale programs, civil society groups, and academic institutions. He is also the National Convenor of the Public Health Resource Network. Climate change and the environment are areas that he has worked across sectors.

He elucidated upon the impact of climate change WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) sectors; he explained the whole narrative of climate change keeping water at the center of understanding. The water consumption has increased Multifoods and is expected to increase shortly because the rapid growth of industries and growing urbanization have resulted in acute water shortages. Rather, the occurrence of floods, droughts, heatwaves have increased along with the mortalities due to waterborne disease. The main trend around the nations has been decreasing along with the over-drafting of groundwater at an unprecedented rate.

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Our improver use of land and the lack of infrastructure is creating a negative impact on WASH. The disasters caused because of climate change such as floods and droughts have a deep impact on WASH. The loss of life and infrastructure not only hinders economic growth but at the same time is making the accessibility of WASH services less accessible.

Poverty and inequality are the key social-economic driver for India’s climate vulnerability.

There are many government policies and programs in the field of WASH but the clarity about the programs and the impact of these programs are not being reflected and provided. The financing in WASH is less than 1%, which is significantly low compared to its significance. Things such as ground-level water use and limiting use of water in industries should be checked at a set equal interval of time.

Work of WaterAid in the sphere of WASH and Climate Change

Amulya Miriyala, Policy Officer, WaterAid India, Amulya is an engineer turned policy enthusiast with a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering and has worked as a wastewater engineer in the United States before starting her journey in the development sector in India. She is passionate about the environment, youth engagement, and equity and inclusion. She likes to travel and explore local cuisines during her free time.

She highlighted upon the research taken up by WaterAid which reflected, most toilets were unsafe, rather rural washrooms were not only unsafe but were a hazard for the environment, they continued to find that many washrooms are safe but are not sustainable in nature. Another study was taken up by WaterAid, regarding the suitability of washrooms following the terrains. Most of the toilets were not suitable in their specific area. Another study carried out shows that the washrooms were not enough distance from their water source.

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Jal Chupal is a democratic platform, where they could communicate the problems of the communities, make them aware of the water conservation and hygiene techniques and help them using by using various innovative measures. Their model has been replicated in many villages and impacted thousands of lives across various rural areas of the country.

They also try to include calamity-prone areas to make things better for them. Climate and WASH study with collaboration with the University of California, to impact various areas around the country which are disaster-prone or is the population there is more vulnerable, their income is low and many such factors. They are taking up a ground evaluation and community-based examination of the condition system rather than the traditional method, which not only helps to solve the problem from the bottom but also to fulfill the aspirations of locals.

What can WASH sector organizations adopt and focus on?

The number one would be communication between government and private bodies, these should be focused on proper and effective management, methods to conserve and reuse water should be constructed, these should not only on policy changes but various institutional changes should also be brought.

WASH-related awareness, based on its direct and indirect impact should be done. Ensuring the data which should be based on the local and the rural area, to prove the working of polices changes. Technology and evaluation should be the major elements of this framework. All the changes and newly established instruments should be following the problem of climate change and the financing should also have a major leap.

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This was followed by a Question-and-Answer Round addressing various crucial issues, an emphasis was on development on the ground of local and rural areas and how these are the most essential to bring a change, which could show significant development in the sector of climate change. Some of the issues in the transition of policies and setting up of new programs have been facing, but moving in the right direction is what matters the most, everything will follow it. It’s still not simple rather the issues of local dilemma and financing are still an issue for the government and the civil society organizations.

Decentralized management of these programs, especially in rural areas is one of the biggest challenges, which are capturing but the way along with it is long. These immense discussions were followed by a general vote of thanks; therefore, the talk was concluded.

Acknowledgment: Ayush Aggarwal is a research intern at IMPRI.

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