LAYA INECC – Filtering Away Misery in Rural Andhra Pradesh

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Access to safe drinking water, better healthcare and sanitation remain some of the glaring social issues across the globe today. Yet, with the advancement in technology, organizations have found simple, yet effective ways through which communities can have access to better life opportunities.

Ecoideaz brings you stories of select few enterprises that have created a substantial impact in the sustainable energy field. These enterprises are members of the CLEAN Network, a large consortium of various Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) – enterprises across India. One such member at CLEAN is INECC (whose founding member is LAYA), a national network of organizations and individuals working actively on the issue of climate change from the perspective of marginalized communities. Their remarkable work in Addateegala Mandal in Andhra Pradesh with a tribal community is a story worth sharing.

Poloraju Srilaxmi belongs to the Konda Reddy Adivasi community in Andhra Pradesh and stays with her husband Demudu and one child. Her community is one of the most vulnerable tribal groups of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. Srilaxmi’s family often fell ill and had to visit the local medical practitioners at least twice a month. Although they were aware their illness was due to consumption of unfiltered water, there was little they could do to mitigate this problem. Traveling to the doctor’s clinic for check-up meant they lost time, which otherwise they would spend in agricultural activities. It was also a big pinch in the pocket as they would end up spending up to INR300 on each visit.

LAYA INECC has been working in M. Bheemavaram village to ensure better livelihood and health facilities for the community. They had trained the local community health practitioners and traditional health practitioners in M.Bheemavaram.

In early 2018, LAYA INECC organized a meeting with the Adivasi community to understand the issue of poor drinking water and how it could be resolved. Based on the inputs, they made several petitions to the local government, the Integrated Tribal Development Authority and also ran a media campaign to highlight the issue. The government did respond to LAYA’s multi-pronged approach and conducted a feasibility study through the Rural Water Supply & Sanitation department. But sadly, there was no progress beyond that from the concerned authorities.

Then LAYA INECC decided to take charge and they introduced a quick and viable solution in the form of    Bio-Sand Water filters. These filters were developed by the Centre for Affordable Water & Sanitation Technology (CAWST), an international agency working on providing clean water solution globally. The main advantage with this technology is that the filter has no discernable cost to maintain. Since the filtering medium is essentially sand, all that is needed is care of the external structure and the system functions well for many years. In fact, the growing bio-layer in the system gets better as the system ages. LAYA offered these at a heavily subsidized cost to the community.

Srilaxmi was one of the first persons to come forward and the first Bio-Sand water filter in her community was installed in her house. Finding it life changing, she not only spread the good word about it, but also helped with all the other Bio-sand filter installations in the village.

“We conventionally used the water from the bore-well that was reddish in colour and tasted bad. This had serious implications on the health of all my family members. The Bio-Sand filter has come as a respite. The water tastes good and the health of my family is improving. Even if I travel to other neighboring villages, I carry filtered water with me” says a relieved Srilaxmi.

The Bio-Sand filters have been in operation for two years now and Srilaxmi and other villagers are happy with the quality of water produced by their new filters. Safe drinking water also means that families also save on approximately three kilos of wood every week, since they no longer have to boil water now. LAYA’s intervention not only changed Srlilaxmi’s life but has also illustrated how effective use of technology can have a lasting positive impact in the lives of marginalized communities.

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