In July 2011, The Highfield Company first partnered with the UK charity Just A Drop to provide basic water & sanitation to the villages of Mettukadu and Thalimangalam in Tamil Nadu, India. Thalimangalam Village has 6 households with about 30 people. Mettukadu Village has 25 households with 100 people. The villages are in a very rural area and the majority of people work in agriculture as day workers, with wages in the region of US$2 per day. The people survive in the most basic conditions, water is drawn from dirty open supplies or carried from adjacent villages several km away. Sanitation is non-existent with open defecation the only option with all the negative implications of disease, privacy and safety.
Through the work of Just A drop, their local partner and with the support of The Highfield Company, toilets and wells have been constructed and were completed in early 2012.
In 2012, The Highfield Company supported a second Just A Drop project, in Parumpair village, to provide water, sanitation and bathing facilities for about 350 people. The project was successfully completed in 2013. Subsequently, there has been a reduction in Malaria and Diarrhoea in the village by 50% since the toilets and water provision opened.
In 2013, The Highfield Company committed to financially supporting a third project with Just A Drop, this time a pioneering, ground-breaking project that is the first of it's kind. Across the Bundelkhand region in India, there are 30,000 people in the lowest income bracket category, with little access to clean, safe, drinking water. The existing network of hand-pumps are broken and disused and there is not the consistent regular expertise to repair these and ensure they are providing clean water. The Highfield Company is sponsoring a trained Mechanic and a Water Quality Analyst for two years and also providing a motorbike and all tools and spare parts, to bring this network back to full operational capacity in the 50 project villages.
After less than a year of work through the Project, it is clear it is a huge success. 36 villages have received support so far and many of the major hardware problems have been solved, many water systems have been found broken down due to leaking pipes and defunct hand pumps but the project has gone beyond the fixing of hardware and also focused on mobilising the communities to take ownership of their systems.
Water Quality is now better understood in villages and by Haritika, our local partner, itself. Staff of Haritika understand the problems more clearly than before and are in a better position to help more villages and widen understanding and awareness.
The villages that have so far had intervention have warmly welcomed the assistance on maintenance and water quality testing of their systems and the aim is that because of their increased knowledge they will easily accept paying for maintenance support at the end of the O&M project now that they have seen the benefits.
A further year of the project is planned to consolidate the learning process and to impact on village water supply sustainability in this unique way – both in the villages we have already been working in and a further 14. Nowhere else has this approach been taken and it will no doubt be fully documented and publicised to State and National Government and to other NGOs within India like Haritika, meaning the positive effects will be widespread.
You can visit Just a Drop's website by clicking here.