Focus areas: Sustainable Rural Development, Healthcare
Location: Kutch district, Gujarat
Background: Marginalized people in Kutch district in Gujarat suffer from drought, illness, and unemployment. During intense droughts, young girls may spend their entire day hauling water instead of attending school. Many families migrate each year, driven from their homes by drought and unemployment. Sanitation is also a severe challenge – many villages have never had a toilet facility. Women and children are especially vulnerable to unsanitary conditions, which lead to sickness and even death.
Samerth Charitable Trust, a Credibility Alliance-certified NGO, is working in villages in the Kutch region to bring villagers access to safe drinking water, sanitation and economic opportunities. Thanks to its donors’ generosity and compassion, IDRF has been able to provide growing support to Samerth’s projects.
This project has provided safe and accessible water supply to over 10,000 people. From 2009 to 2012, we built 9 check dams and 30 wells. Starting in 2013, we expanded the project to approximately at least 30 more villages. Using water harvesting, these dams and wells help build up a sustainable supply of water. While they collect water for immediate use, they also replenish the groundwater supply and prevent saltwater contamination. Samerth’s team monitors water quality to ensure it is potable.
Government-allocated money for the construction of dams and wells was not reaching the target population. Samerth spurred the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee program, persuading the government to compensate villagers for building the dams and wells. This enabled villagers to earn 10 million rupees in wages in 2011-2012 and over 5 million rupees in 2013 alone.
Today, people are increasingly self-reliant and healthy and the migration rate in the target area has declined from 35% to just 11.5%. The prevalence of water-borne disease has plummeted from 62% to 33%. Improved conditions are allowing farmers to work more days each year. Lastly, 17% more children – especially girls – are going to school, liberated from the drudgery of carrying water pots.
IDRF is funding Samerth’s construction of over 1,200 toilets in low-income households in Nakhatrana taluka. The NGO uses government data and meetings with local people to prioritize toilets for the most socially disadvantaged families. Since each family helps with the construction, Samerth has been able to save labor costs and build more toilets. These facilities are equipped with running water and septic pits that purify and return wastewater to the environment.
Samerth also teaches communities about hygiene and cleanliness. Now, women throughout the region come to Samerth’s forums and ask for assistance in building their own toilets.