Access to safe drinking water and sanitation has been recognized as a human right under international law and India’s constitution, yet millions of slum-dwellers in the sub-continent still lack access to these vital services. In Mumbai, about 60% of the city’s population lives in slums on <9% of its land area. PUKAR’s research in the Kaula Bandar slum showed that only 0.1% of the population in that non-notified settlement actually had such access. Taking all these factors in consideration and based upon PUKAR’s past research model, we decided to launch a novel “Rapid Water Survey” (RWS) that overcomes traditional difficulties associated with measuring water access in slums.
PUKAR was very fortunate that in November 2015 Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), Boston, awarded PUKAR 2015 UUSC Innovative Fellowship Grant. The purpose of this fellowship is to support PUKAR’s novel idea of rapid water survey in the slum of Mandala, which is a mixed notified and non-notified slum settlement located in Mumbai’s M-East ward. M-East ward has the lowest human development index in the city and those residents do not have access to enough quantities of water at affordable rates. In December 2014, the Bombay High Court ordered the government to extend access to Mumbai’s water supply to the two to three million-city residents living in non-notified slums. Lack of accurate information about existing access to water in non-notified slums in Mumbai impedes the city’s fulfillment of this new legal obligation.
This project will be implemented in the Mandala community, which is a mixed notified and non-notified slum settlement located in Mumbai’s M-East ward, which has the lowest human development indicators in the city. Located near and on one of the largest dumping grounds of the city, Mandala community lacks all the basic services including water.
We plan to implement this project using PUKAR’s community-based participatory research (CBPR) model, which involves data collection by barefoot researchers (BRs), who are youth who live in the local slum community. This model empowers slum dwellers to participate in the data collection process and hold the local government accountable for improving water access.
This project will achieve the following goals:
- To pilot-test methods for assessing key water service delivery indicators in slums—specifically access, quantity, quality, reliability, affordability, and non-discrimination.
- To pilot-test methods for assessing “actionable” water service delivery indicators that show the government how and where water infrastructure is non-functional, deficient, or non-existent.
- To gather baseline data on outcome indicators, including burden of disease, the household economy, and quality of life. Examples of these indicators include the period prevalence of diarrheal illness, household income, missed days of work due to water collection, and missed days of school due to water collection.
- To evaluate the accuracy the candidate Sustainable Development Goals questions for assessing the quantity of water consumed by households and the reliability of the water supply.
- To collect narrative and photo-documentary data on water-related hardships using a CBPR approach.
- To facilitate dialogue between the city government and leaders in the Mandala community in a manner that promotes equitable provision of new water infrastructure in Mandala, with a long-term goal of having existing households achieve all of the outcome water indicators noted above.
The BRs would also gather “actionable” water service delivery indicators that show the government how and where water infrastructure is non-functional, deficient, or non-existent. Most important, this will help facilitate dialogue between the city government and leaders in the Mandala community in a manner that promotes equitable provision of new water infrastructure in Mandala, with a long-term goal of having existing households achieve their right to adequate quantity of water.
Phase 1: Collecting photo and video documentary evidence by the Barefoot Researchers: Work in progress
Phase 2: Census, coding, and mapping of households and water taps: Work in progress
Phase 3: Cross-sectional household survey questionnaire
Phase 4: Longitudinal water diary data collection
Phase 5: Testing for bacterial contamination
Phase 6: Advocacy strategy
Table 1: Actionable indicators that show policymakers and local water engineers how and where water infrastructure is non-functional, deficient, or non-existent
|Actionable Indicators||Outcome indicator that might be improved||Method of measurement|
|Location of contaminated taps||quality||Tap census and testing for bacterial contamination|
|Location of non-functioning taps||access, reliability, quantity, affordability, non-discrimination||Tap census|
|“Black holes” of access||access, reliability, quantity, affordability, non-discrimination||Tap census and household mapping|
|Household-to-tap ratios||access, reliability, quantity, affordability, non-discrimination||Household census and tap census|
|Water reliability index||reliability, quantity, affordability||Longitudinal water diary, household survey|
The maps below present examples of how “actionable” indicators could be presented to policymakers. Figure 2 shows an example of highlighting black holes of access by mapping water points and laying this information over household census data. Figure 3 shows an aspiration map showing where community water taps (red dots) should ideally be located to provide equitable water access to the entire population of the Kaula Bandar slum community in Mumbai.
Figure 2: Map of a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, where GPS mapping of water taps was used to highlight “black holes” of access. Source: Jason Corburn and colleagues; presented at the 2011 International Conference on Urban Health.
Figure 3: Map of the Kaula Bandar slum with locations proposed by PUKAR for equitable placement of community water taps (distributed based on the population in each lane). PUKAR got Mumbai’s water commissioner and the local corporator (alderman) to agree on this map describing likely sites for tap placement once a water supply is built for Kaula Bandar
- Photo-essay and narrative findings of barefoot researchers to be presented in online news and social media outlets, such as Scroll.in.
- A brief (e.g., 3-minute) video essay by the PUKAR team and barefoot researchers communicating the difficulties faced by the Mandala communities with regard to water access. The goal of this video/s would be to reach middle-class audiences in India and the U.S. Hopefully, this video will be beneficial for both PUKAR and UUSC. We invite support from UUSC in creating this video essay, which would be helpful to both organizations.
- GPS maps of the sections of the Mandala community that will be included in our research, including the following:
- A map of all households in the areas where PUKAR will be working.
- A map that shows all water sources (e.g., taps or water tanks) in the area.
- A map that highlights fully functional and non-functional water sources.
- A map that highlights contaminated taps.
- A map that highlights black holes of access.
- Three datasets:
- A household census dataset
- A dataset based on the 600 household surveys in Phase 3.
- A dataset for the longitudinal water diaries.
- A brief report to be submitted to an academic journal such as the Journal of Water Health that describes the accuracy of the WHO/JMP questions for assessing water service delivery.
- Documentation of the results of 20-30 meetings with community residents to communicate results of the research and to mobilize them for the advocacy initiative.
Phase 6: Advocacy strategy
For the last months of the project, we will engage in a multi-component advocacy strategy including the following:
a) Community mobilization: PUKAR will use the findings from the Rapid Water Survey to create a 5 minutes “know your rights” video. This video will contrast our water findings from Mandala with ideal water service delivery guidelines as recommended by the WHO. PUKAR and the barefoot researcher team will conduct 20 to 30 showings of this video, covering every lane in the Mandala community. People who attend these sessions will be encouraged to join the advocacy efforts.
b) Creating aspirational maps of water infrastructure: PUKAR will work with the community to map out what “ideal” water infrastructure might look like in the community (see Figure 3 above). Taps in this ideal scenario will be laid out so that ever household is within 100 meters of a community tap and so that taps are equitably distributed per the population in each slum lane. These maps will facilitate dialogue with key stakeoholders.
c) Meetings with key stakeholders: The goal of these meetings will be to bring together key government officials, Mandala community members, and PUKAR researchers. PUKAR researchers will present the water findings from Mandala. Mandala community members will include barefoot researchers, women facing water hardship in the community, and community leaders. Government officials will include people such as the Municipal Water Commissioner for Mumbai, the head of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, and local water engineers. The goal of these meetings will be to develop a plan for restructuring and extending new water infrastructure in Mandala that all parties can agree upon.
PUKAR has a strong relationship with Mumbai’s previous water commissioner, Mr. Rajiv Jalota, and he may be able to facilitate meetings with the current water commissioner. Drs. Ramnath and Anita have relationships with the current head of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission.