Rockefeller Foundation – ACCCRN

Social and Environment Photography

This project was commissioned to me by Robin Wyatt Vision. The content below was first published here.

Photo credit: Gitika Saksena for Robin Wyatt Vision

Indore is the biggest city in Madhya Pradesh, one of India’s largest states. As the metropolis continues to rapidly grow, its citizens are feeling the strain on resources. Many of Indore’s lakes are polluted, the groundwater is depleting and contaminated and the city has become increasingly dependent on costly, energy intensive water supplied from the Narmada River. Rising temperatures exacerbate the problem, with highs reaching almost 50°C, recently. Starting with a comprehensive analysis of community needs and existing infrastructure, TARU – the local partner in the ACCCRN – realised the starkness of the current water situation. Much of the city’s solid waste was ending up in surrounding water bodies. Through GIS mapping and a water quality survey, they were able to identify 15 local lakes where the need for intervention was most critical. A plant at Indore Zoo that treats the sewerage water from the Khan River has since been piloted, while another larger plant has been sanctioned to manage solid waste and treat sewerage water flowing into a nearby lake. The city’s lakes could soon serve as emergency water sources for the city, while at the same time providing livelihood opportunities for nearby communities. Lasuriya Mori Lake, pictured here, used to be choked with rubbish. TARU has helped to clean up the water and pilot nutrient regeneration to increase oxygen levels. The effort is already yielding results in the form of increased fish catches.
Thanks in part to climate change, Indore is facing noticeable water deficit both in quantity and quality. The communities who suffer the greatest from lack of access to water are more often than not at the lower end of the income spectrum. The water management project being implemented by TARU and the Indore Municipal Corporation is designed to tackle these problems by diversifying the city’s water sources in order to get safe, clean drinking water to residents of her communities. This includes piloting a reverse osmosis (RO) drinking water facility, rainwater harvesting and providing community and individual storage tanks. It wasn’t always easy to convince people that such initiatives, particularly  the RO plant, would benefit them. The land on which this was built was originally earmarked for a temple, but community members including Bhagwant Bai – pictured here with her RO water can – were persuaded that access to clean drinking water would answer their prayers for good health. TARU is now in the process of handing over the operation of the plant to the community.
Lack of clean drinking water and sanitation is also a leading cause of several diseases that Indore residents experience, from dysentery to malaria. To address this problem, TARU has designed and piloted a disease surveillance system that tracks disease incidence across 599 slums. For the pilot phase, surveyors and volunteers are using an Android app to collect data from each family where an illness has been reported. TARU then aggregates the information onto a disease map of the city, which allows one to zoom in on a particular place and identify the causes of diseases, many of which correlate with the water source or how water was used. The project is also raising awareness through a toll-free medi-aid helpline that provides information on the locations of hospitals and pharmacies in the area to individuals, as well as their eligibility to access government health schemes.





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