Water,literacy and the girl child

January 31, 2008

In Arjunabettahalli of Nelamangala and about 40 km from Bangalore little Vinutha, all of 10 and studying in the 5th standard answers questions on water and rainwater harvesting. She emphasizes that water is a limited natural resource (Parimita sampanamoola in Kannada and in her own beautiful words) and therefore should be used carefully. She also has been studying about rainwater harvesting in school and now sees one being built in her house. Every day she and her mother spend half an hour to 2 hours in bringing water to the house.

When questioned she is perplexed as to why the boys in the family do not do this work. Harvesting rain helps the girl child from hauling water during the rainy days at least. Ultimately gender equality will alone answer the burden put on little girls. (less)

Can a state level survey be done asking 9 to 12 year old girl children their relationship with water and sanitation?

Can we then take the results of the survey to policy makers and institutions as the girl childs voice on water and sanitation?

We can do this at 2 places – The house and the school. Questions can elicit information an arm her with knowledge on many things such as

1. Who is responsible for bringing water to the house hold ?

A survey in 1990 by IMRB suggested that nearly 68% of the water collection in households was done by women.

4% of this was by the girl child younger than 15 years.

2.What is the source of the drinking water?

Dug wells were a pre dominant source yet there was no programme for protecting the dug well and ensuring its sustainability through recharge

3. How far is it from your house?

4.How much time does it take to bring the water?

To collect approx 192 litres per family per day it took 1.2 to 3.5 hours daily

5.How many trips do you make in a day?

6. Where do you store the water brought to your house?

7. Where does the waste water from your house go?

8.Do you have a toilet in your house?

9.Who takes care of the cleanliness of the toilet?

10. Do the boys/men in the house help with water in the house?

11. Do you have sheep/goat/cows in your family?

12.How do they get water to drink? Who takes them to the water? Who brings water for them? How much water?


1.Does your school have a water source?

2.Do you take water to school from home?

3.Does your school have a toilet?

4.Do you use the toilet in the school?

5.Who keeps the toilet clean in school?


1.How often do you have a bath?

2.Do you use soap to wash your hands ?

3.How often do you wash your clothes?

4.How often do you change your clothes?

5.Do you have a water borne disease or have you had one in the last week?

Diarhoea /skin disease

6.Have you had malaria/chikungunya/dengue in the last one year?

Lakshmi here for example has understood the benefit of rainwater harvesting to combat fluorosis. Can this knowledge be translated to all the women in the more than 5400 habitations with excess fluoride.?


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