PepsiCo Foundation in partnership with WaterAid India has initiated the ‘Access to Safe Water’ project with 45 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in West Bengal aims at providing clean water access to high-water-risk communities in the districts of Purba Bardhaman, Bankura, and Hooghly. The project endeavours to positively impact the health, security, and hygiene of local rural residents.
The prime objective of this project is to benefit close to 200,000 people directly and indirectly, by mid-2024. Initiatives that are planned over the coming months include providing adequate access to safe drinking water in households; improved hygiene and sanitation practices; reduced groundwater depletion through water conservation and recharge and establishing suitable water quality monitoring systems. Besides this, the project also aims to ensure significant awareness of water, health, and sanitation (WASH) issues, scaling up and replication of models outside the project villages and communities.
Through this partnership, WaterAid India aims to provide communities with sustainable access to safe and clean drinking water and to facilitate the adoption of better hygiene practices.
Briefing on the progress of the initiatives, VK Madhavan, Chief Executive, WaterAid India said, “Safe and assured drinking water in the household or close to it has to be the reality for every family. This will not just improve the health and quality of life of families but more importantly, it will reduce the drudgery of women and adolescent girls. This partnership with the support of the PepsiCo Foundation can transform the lives of families engaged as part of the supply chain of PepsiCo by providing them with adequate access to safe water, clean toilets, and good hygiene. Success is not merely the provision of these basic services but if communities can manage and maintain these on their own in the future.”
Highlighting the project, Ahmed ElSheikh, President, PepsiCo India said, “Guided by the philosophy of ‘Winning with pep+’, PepsiCo through its Foundation has been working towards bringing safe water access and better hygiene practices and sanitation to the underserved communities. Our partnership with Water Aid India to provide safe access to water to marginalised farmer communities is inching us closer towards our goal of providing 100 million people globally with safe water access by 2030. We are positive that the inclusivity of this project will improve the health and hygiene of local farmers and communities and accelerate the process of achieving the long-term goal of improving water security in the region.”
A need assessment study was conducted by WaterAid India in the identified villages in these three districts of West Bengal to understand the pressing challenges faced by families. This assessment will serve as a baseline to guide efforts and to be able to track change during the course of this project. The findings from the baseline study further revealed that across all three districts, almost 58.8 per cent people fetched water from far-off sources for their daily needs during lean and peak summer months and about 19.5 per cent of households had access to safe drinking water at home. In terms of access to basic sanitation facilities, nearly 20 per cent of families didn’t have access to toilets and about 18.5 per cent of families had shared toilets.
‘Access to Safe Water’ project is about providing water and sanitation facilities to farmers and the community. Besides, hygiene promotion messaging among adolescent girls and women has been a key component for the project. About 550 adolescent girls and women have been trained on sustainable menstrual hygiene management. Community-level hygiene promotion sessions on personal hygiene; environmental hygiene; water and food hygiene have been regularly organised in all the intervention villages. About 6,300 people were reached through this exercise between mid-2021 to date. This number included 3,800 children. Training and awareness programmes have been organised to make WASH programmes more accessible and inclusive for everyone in the community. To improve hygiene and sanitation practices, toilets are being retrofitted.
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