As a major source of potable water, hand pumps are ubiquitous in rural India.
The water crisis in India has been in the making for sometime now, and the current COVID-19 pandemic has further brought to fore the challenges of safe water and hygiene, necessary for survival.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought the world to a standstill. Government, civil society and volunteers are rallying to ensure that social and economic inequalities do not dictate how this crisis draws lines between the “haves” and “have-nots”. Nonetheless, the crisis seems to have deepened the existing divide.
The way water as a resource has been viewed in the policies of India has evolved significantly over the years. Reduction in per capita availability over the years (5177 to 1463 cubic metres between 1950-2015) has forced every new policy to change the way it has approached its management. It was considered an economic commodity in the second National Water Policy (NWP) drafted in 2002.
Millions of Indian women can take up to six trips a day to gather and transport water, which takes up a major part of their day. During scorching summers when many sources dry up, their drudgery gets even worse.
After independence, India was largely food insecure but post Green Revolution around the 1970s, foodgrain production increased manifold consequently reducing food insecurity and poverty in the country, in spite of rapid population growth. Its ability to achieve targeted results was largely dependent on the explosion of groundwater abstraction mechanisms like tubewells.