Anju is a tea plucker in Darjeeling. She used to wake up at 3.00am every day and wait in line for up to an hour to fetch water. Through our programme in Darjeeling, Anju now has access to clean water and sanitation.
“Now there is a continuous supply of water and the water point is so near to my house that my family is able to wash, clean and take regular baths”.
Enabling Improving access to clean water and sanitation in Darjeeling
We have been partnering with Mercy Corps since 2010 in Darjeeling on water and sanitation projects and in 2014 we extended our partnership to one of our key tea producers. Many families living in tea estates lack access to sanitary latrines, clean water and basic services and as such there is a high prevalence of waterborne diseases.
While provision of living quarters, toilets and drinking water facilities are part of the legal benefits that should be provided to workers in India, rising populations on tea estates (of which only 30% have permanent employment) means that the industry has not always been able to provide adequate benefits to all.
Our project provides families with sanitary latrines whilst also improving access to clean water and conducting hygiene awareness training. So far our programme achieved 66% reduction in waterborne diseases in the area, and continues today. We have helped 5,896 people gain access to clean water and given 5,373 people access to sanitary latrines.
This helps people like Anju and her family to be able to wash and clean regularly, to have clean drinking water and to understand the important of good hygiene practices. The lack of access to water impacted Anju’s life in many ways, not just on her health and wellbeing but also making her late for work, which resulted in a loss of a day’s wage. Anju explains, “My rapport with my supervisor at work has significantly improved as I have not been late for work.”
Access to clean water and sanitation not only improves people’s health, but also enables women and children to, respectively, attend school or participate in economic activities, instead of spending time collecting water, which improves their livelihoods.