Access to clean water should be a basic human right.
Yet, many of the 2mil residents in Kuttanad lack a safe source.
The State of Kerala has the second highest population density among all states in India, with the highest literacy rate. Yet, despite the progress in human development, many residents face contamination of their water source. In Kuttanad, a coastal area in the Alappuzha district and the lowest-lying region in the state, urgent water scarcity increases each year due to the downstream geography, polluting groundwater with agricultural runoff, human waste, and salt-water intrusion.
The Rural Community Lacks Water Sources
Surface & Groundwater
Households without public access rely on polluted canal water or wells. At present, more than 80% of the Kuttanad population is using canal water for daily water requirements: they bathe, wash dishes, and do laundry in the canals, further contaminating the supply. The canal water is highly contaminated with fecal matter and agricultural run off. There are over 3,000 e.coli count, while the WHO drinking water guideline is 0 E.Coli per 100 ml of water. Wells are also contaminated due to the low lying geography, which causes salt water and other waste to seep into groundwater.
Water supply from public taps is very irregular and unreliable. The government allocates water taps along the road in rural areas, but these do not reach villagers' private homes. The public taps only supply water twice per week, and it is often for a limited time each day. Due to poor road conditions, women have reported spending up to several hours every day walking long distances to fetch water for their households. Some regions with heavy agricultural activity are unsuitable for pipe infrastructure, forcing residents to look elsewhere for water.
Private water vendors are completely subsidized by the government to address Kuttanad's water inaccessibility problem. However, the vendors truck water from urban deposits back to rural areas, making the supply extremely unregulated. In many instances, vendors collect water in contaminated containers, polluting the supply. Additionally, they travel to rural areas irregularly and change prices frequently. Residents that rely on these vendors as their only option lack the security of a constant water source.