Locals struggle with WASH issues post-Amphan

Cyclone Amphan wreaks havoc in the Sunderbans at a time when the country was already battling a large spread of Covid-19.
Having no source of water is proving to be extremely difficult for the people living in the Sundarbans. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)
Having no source of water is proving to be extremely difficult for the people living in the Sundarbans. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)

UN’s recognition of safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right recently hit a decade and this makes us ponder even more about the situation in the Sundarbans after the Amphan cyclone. The destruction caused by Amphan in the Sundarbans poses a massive threat to the very right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation of the people living there. Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has an acute shortage of potable water and sanitation and its people are being deprived of their basic needs to a very high degree.

Since the Amphan cyclone, water and sanitation have become a challenge for locals living in the Sundarbans. Being forced to live in shacks with no potable drinking water and decent washrooms due to their houses being ripped apart by the cyclone, has forced families to live in extreme conditions where they have to defecate in open areas and buy packaged water which costs them around sixty to a hundred rupees per week. Saline water has gushed into the ponds and tube wells in the village and has rendered most of the tube wells irreparable. The tube wells that had not been repaired properly after Aila and Bulbul have now become useless. Women have to cycle or walk everyday for over 30 minutes away from their homes to get water. 


UN’s recognition of the right to clean and safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right recently marked a decade. Clean water and sanitation is one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. However, this very right of the people living in the Sundarbans is under a massive threat. The Amphan cyclone has deprived these people of their basic human right to clean drinking water and sanitation. (Image: WaterAid/Subhrajit Sen)

 Locals have to travel for around 30 minutes to fetch water. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)

 Mamoni has been using this road to reach the tube well for drinking water, thrice a day, carrying eight or nine liters of water every day. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)


The road that connects Mamoni Giri’s house to the tube well has been covered with dripping mud after Amphan. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)


Dozens of tube wells are defunct and locals have to travel very far to fetch water from the tube wells that are working. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)


Dipti Das is worried about the dearth of water but is still trying to keep her spirits high for her family. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)


Men and women are torn between the need to fetch drinking water and earn a decent living. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)

  Locals’ possessions have been stuck on trees due to the rising sea level. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)

A lot of them have tried to retrieve their possession but have not been able to salvage all their belongings. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)


Rinki Bera is holding a bottle of packaged drinking water. This costs her family around sixty to hundred rupees putting the family under an immense financial strain. Aila had inflicted excessive damage to the people but Amphan combined with the coronavirus pandemic has taken away almost everything from them. (Image: WaterAid, Subhrajit Sen)


Clean water and sanitation are a must for any individual to survive. Locals in the Sundarbans today are fighting for survival as Amphan with the additional burden of the coronavirus pandemic has made life extremely difficult for them. Paying for packaged drinking water due to no source of clean water and living in unsanitary conditions while being quarantined or providing for those who have been quarantined is a dreadful situation to be in.

People in the Sundarbans are helping each other and trying to rebuild their life with scarce resources. Having to find clean water to drink is a daily struggle for locals and is a huge barrier towards rebuilding life and livelihood. It is imperative that we contribute in whatever little way we can to help them.

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