Women empowerment - Jalswarajya project launches 'Jalmitra' initiative in Maharashtra

The article is about millions of women in rural India who are ready to conquer new horizon in water management with the support and encouragement, provided by Jalswarajya .

Women ‘JALMITRA’ spanning awareness on O&M

Article by - Prabhakar Mishra, IEC Specialist, Jalswarajya Nagpur.


            Millions of women in rural India are ready for takeoff to conquer new horizon, just needed proper support and encouragement, proved by Jalswarajya project’s ‘Jalmitra’ initiative. Women, who have been never set foot outside their homes, are now guiding leaders of other villages about how to operate and maintain a water supply scheme efficiently. Archana Shende of Pusda(Tangla) village, Even though she is educated up to higher secondary, but seems to be an engineer as she guide on technical aspect of water supply scheme. Same glory of Aasha Dhenge, Women empowerment committee president of Adam village, she is excellent like a doctor with her subject ‘water quality and health’.

           From Jan,2010 Jalswarajya project begin to embarked on ambitious concept of training villagers of ideal village as ‘Jalmitra’, to give training   to other villages in their local language and set an model for imitation. Within six months ‘Jalmitra’ concept set new mile stone in capacity building efforts of rural stakeholders by government. Cross learning and experience sharing took place in villagers through this initiative is incredible.

             In Nagpur district 87 Jalmitra being trained by Jalswarajya officials, out of which 24 are women. They have expertise in different domain like ‘Need of O&M’, Technical aspect of O&M, Water quality and health, Assembling private house hold connection, Water tax and financial management of water supply scheme.

Footprints of Change

            Aasha dhenge and Archana Shende were as trainer in workshop of 13 Village Panchayat’s representative, Organized at Sarpanch Bhawan on 4th June, 2010. They are not same person we had observed in first training of trainer, in January, 2010. Now they have conquered their fear completely. But first time when we call them on stage, they were uncomfortable due to shyness and hesitation. confidence start to built after O&M training by officials. Their confidence level rise one level above after Role plays. In which training environment simulated. Officials were playing role of villagers and ‘Jalmitra’ practiced their training skill. They took help of drawing sheets to accumulate their ideas and points on it.

            After two step training session, it was acid test time for these entrant trainers. Their first assignment was to give training to those Village panchayats, which have been exited from project successfully. This was phase three part one of O&M training program.  After that selective teams were being assigned a herculean task of training 90 village panchayat‘s representatives, that’s also within stipulated time of 15 days.  Program on 4th June, 2010 was last in this series. And we were surprised to observe that our entrant trainers are now masters. Their body language, voice tone, suitable examples and presentation everything have a glimpse of perfection.    

11 teams of Jalmitra, each consist of 5, successfully trained 111 Village panchayat’s representatives of Nagpur district within stipulated time. Jalmitra in Nagpur district trained more than 500 trainees, which include women in equal proportion.

Inspiring Practices

            Jalmitra Nisha Mandale’s vivid description of her practical experience of running a water supply scheme through SHG inspired other trainee women for imitation. She is president of Aadivaasi self help group, operating water supply scheme of Borgaon Shastri village since last 18 months. Though their SHG had not get any profit last year. But their commitment to insure safe drinking water is unaffected. Nisha Mandale proclaim that it is not just business, it is their cordial mission for their sisters. She always insists in her lecture to insure 100% house hold connection and to charge logical water tax.

            Nisha Mandale made frequent mention to trainee, “Fetching water from long trudge distance is now history for women in Jalswarajya villages. They are getting water from tap at their door step. But they have to learn from their past experience that if they will fail to sustain the water supply scheme, it would turn on unavoidable predicament. Women SHG have to come forth for accepting responsibility of collecting water tax and operating & maintenance of water supply scheme.”

            Success story of Jalmitra trainer in Nagpur cannot be completed without mentioning Gangabai Uike of Salai village. She is Village water supply committee president and a driving force in village development movement. She is literate hardly to sign her name. Though we included her in Jalmitra, but having little doubt that without referring provided literature, how could she deliver lecture. Indeed she doesn’t need any literature. Her practical experience and strong perception of rural issues were enough to guide others, about what to do to sustain a water supply scheme. Her fluent speech on rural psychology blows out all doubts.

            Ramtek block of Nagpur having large tribal population. In training at Tribal village Pusda Tangla Gangabai used traditional Gondi language to communicate with trainees. We were surprised to see, that our trainers have their own innovative idea to make training effective. We just need to trust them and lend free hand to execute their concepts.

             Catering arrangement by women SHG’s was one more distinctive feature of this O&M training program. In all 39 training program at village and district level, catering was given to women SHG’s. It has mutual benefit, trainee get homemade delicious lunch, and SHG earn profit through this activity.

            These women are forerunner of change in rural temperament. They are not just giving trainings, but also using spanner on reluctant approach of apathetic people. They are leading a silent revolution.



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