"WATER & CHILDREN" Safe Water: every child's right

Water scarcity and contamination are two of the biggest challenges millions of Indian children face due to several factors. To give them a right to a safe and joyful childhood, we must provide them with clean and safe water.

The fourth season of Kallola (2018) revolves around bringing awareness regarding the urgency of providing children with safe water, joyful childhood and a secured and healthy life. Like everyone else, children too have rights to access safe water and failure of the same would have adverse impacts on their development and learning process. When a child has access to safe water, he has a chance to be healthy, go to school, play with friends and have an enjoyable childhood. We as a society and our institutions, including the government bodies, have the prime responsibility to ensure that our children enjoy their right to safe drinking water and clean water to play.

Questions that we need to ask ourselves to know if children have access to safe and secured water or not:
  • Whether water facilities are within safe physical reach of the children or not?
  • Whether the water facilities are available at affordable costs or not?
  • Whether the facilities are putting the children at any health and other risks (including conflicts, abuse, etc.) or not?
  • Whether the water facilities available to them are free of discriminatory practices or not?
  • Whether the local communities/institutions are involved in any endeavours - including innovative efforts - to provide better and safe water facilities to the vulnerable sections (especially children) or not?
  • Whether local environment, sanitation situation and other factors influence the provision of safe and secured water facilities to the children or not?
  • Whether, the water is safely handled to protect it to get contaminated?
  • Whether we are promoting to adopt positive hygiene behaviours to ensure water safety?
  • Whether the local level planning and governance are ensuring both quality and quantity wise water security, hygiene and other facilities towards meeting the sustainable goals or not?
The "WATER & CHILDREN" some ideas to explore:

Given below are a few narrations that would help you find out suitable topics/themes for your short film:

Be it urban or rural areas, children drawing/fetching water from tube wells, wells, ponds and rivers is a common sight. It may look normal to our eyes because we are habituated to see such scenes on our urban streets and in villages. However, this hampers the children in many negative ways, even when they are just accompanying their elders/parents to such places.

Many water sources, be it the place where the children go fetch water or places where they play/bathe, may be located in highly unhygienic areas. You may find them adjacent to garbage dumping yards, or swampy area with polluted water, or similar locations.

Water contamination is a big challenge affecting health of the children. Water that they use - from drinking to bathing to playing - may be contaminated at various points: at the source as well as at the point of their use (dirty containers used for storage and use). Contamination of drinking water occursat different times and points in its management. Even if safe water is provided at source its transportation, storage and handling often leads to secondary contamination before consumption. You need to find out what kind of health issues the children in such localities are facing and also search for possible solutions to such problems.

You may look out for places where there have been severe health hazards including spread of epidemics like jaundice and diarrhoea and locate stories of how that affected children, and also efforts that were put in place to solve the crisis.

A large population in Odisha do not have toilets and practice open defecation, You may look to understand the risks/dangers of unhygienic behaviours (like open defecation) and its linkages with contamination of drinking water sources.

People's perceptions of safe water are based on subjective values: sweetness in taste, clarity, lack of any odour and absence of visible impurities. In general, visible water clarity is the single largest factor defining 'safe drinking water'. Yellow coloured or brackish water is considered unsafe by people and not used for drinking purposes. Awareness regarding water contaminated by germs not visible to the naked eye is majorly lacks. Taste or palatability of drinking water can outweigh other parameters. Long queues for water near water tankers or tube wells or wells, in normal times as well as scarcity periods (such as summer times), are unwanted sights but common in India. Women can be seen with little children, sometimes even breastfeeding children, in such queues. Such places are also prone to conflicts between the competing water fetchers. Children have to go through stress and trauma due to such exposures.

Several parts of Odisha face water shortages due to seasonal water scarcity and unsustainable water-use behaviours (industrial, agricultural and domestic). In such situations, the need to ensure water availability takes precedence over quality.

Lack of availability of water in summer forces communities to use unsafe sources of water. The probability of contamination of water increases significantly when people use several sources. There is also lack of awareness of the benefits of household water purification methods. Knowledge about boiling water is common but practice is very limited. It is restricted to ill family members even on the advice of health workers rather than the entire household. Water quality testing of water sources for bacteriological and chemical contamination is important to identify the risks and treatment to overcome for contamination is important to ensure safe drinking water. There are known groundwater contamination zones in the state of Odisha. In the coastal districts such as Puri there are many areas where saline water from the sea is getting into the freshwater zones. Similarly, in districts such as Nuapada, fluoride contamination of groundwater affects many villages. You may find out the impacts of these contamination on children and also the solutions being tried.

Drinking water facilities in public places and institutions such as schools, hospitals, railway stations, Anganwadi centers could also be looked into as important subjects to find out whether children are able to access quality water with convenience or not.

The world now needs more water conservation efforts, from individuals and institutions alike. You could suggest, through your films, ways in which the children can play a role in promoting conservation or preventing contamination. Using water judiciously, closing taps when not in use, working to clean localities including freeing areas from plastic contamination could be some such efforts.

The above are just some ideas. You need to explore more and we are there to help you in that.

Use your knowledge and creativity to the optimum

Some important facts and figures on Water and Children:
  • Around 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services in the world.
  • Today, around 1.9 billion people live in potentially severely water-scarce areas. By 2050, this could increase to around 3 billion people.
  • An estimated 1.8 billion people use an unimproved source of drinking water with no protection against contamination from human faeces. Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the environment without being treated or reused.
  • According to the UNICEF, today, there are around 2.4 billion people who do not use improved sanitation, and 663 million who do not have access to improved water sources.
  • Clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are essential for the survival and development of children. Without these basic needs, the lives of millions of children are at risk.
  • For children under five, water and sanitation-related diseases are one of the leading causes of death. Every day, over 800 children die from preventable diseases caused by poor water, and a lack of sanitation and hygiene.
  • Many children spend hours every day walking to collect water, sometimes missing out a chance to go to school. This can be dangerous as the containers of water that the children carry can be heavy, varying from anywhere between 5 kilograms to 20 kilograms.

We need to dwell into details of the current situation of our children, especially from the poor and vulnerable sections of the society, in relation to their right to safe drinking water and a healthy childhood. All of us have witnessed such acts in our daily lives. Despite constant and multi-pronged efforts by government and other organizations, right to safe water remains a distant dream for millions of children. The situation is especially bad among poor and marginalized communities, both in urban and rural areas. In order for the society and governments to step up their efforts and ensure both access and quality of water, we need to sensitize all sections of the society through our films and help in achieving our objective of WATER&CHILDREN.

KALLOLA-4 is the perfect opportunity for you to show your concern on the issue and contribute your bit to the cause of ensuring our children a safe and joyful childhood and future. Come, explore your creativity, and join the campaign!