(Article) Women and Water in Bundelkhand
Women play a central role in village and family life, and are usually responsible for preparing meals and fetching water, in many cases, walking long distances to collect water for their families. Water solutions should give every woman a reliable source of drinking and domestic water along with a toilet in her home, to release her from drudgery and let her participate in the economy. Women, traditionally being responsible for procuring water for domestic purposes, are the worst affected of the lot in the wake of severe water crisis. They have to walk for miles to draw water from the drying hand pumps and wells in addition to carrying out household chores.
They also carry out economically productive activities like livestock rearing and working in the fields. And, when water is not readily available, they have to wake up earlier than usual to walk even longer distances or stand in queues. Children, mostly girls, are equally engaged in meeting the water requirements of the families, directly or indirectly. In some cases, while mothers are away in search of water, their girl children are taking care of housework or the younger siblings. This is a major hurdle in the growth and development of children from the perspective of not only education time but also play.
There are reports and instances where children have been dismissed from schools for being irregular, as a result of long hours spent in fetching water. All this while, barring some exceptions, men in most of the villages while away their time gambling on the streets. It is a very common sight in these villages to see men sitting in groups, playing cards or chatting away, while women and children are constantly engaged in fetching water. No wonder that during discussions, many debates have sparked off a reaction from men when water crisis was highlighted as a priority issue by the women and children, prompting the latter to say ‘jeeke paon phateen na bimai, bo ka jaane peer parai’ meaning those who haven’t cracked their heels working, do not understand the toil of others.
Author: M.Manoj Kumar
Source: Development Alternative Newsletter