Safe water against injustice to 'untouchable' rural communities
BridgIT operates in India's Chittoor and Kadapa Districts of Andhra Pradesh State. Andhra Pradesh is the fifth-largest Indian state and has a population of about 40 million. 80% of people live in rural areas, about 45% do not have access to safe drinking water, and about 40% live below the poverty line. The situation is most stark in the predominantly 'Dalit' tribal villages – almost 85% are landless, farm holdings and tiny and unirrigated forests denuded.
The project beneficiaries belong to the marginalised tribal Dalit communities, referred to as 'untouchable' within the Indian caste system. To be born Dalit is to face a life of extreme prejudice and hardship at all levels. The Dalit people are also termed backward class, scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.
The higher castes are generally wealthy, politically-empowered people and often discriminate against, dominate, abuse and suppress the impoverished Dalit people. People of higher castes live in villages where they often force the Dalits to live on the village outskirts. Almost 85% of the Dalit people have no access to land or community resources.
There are many superstitions and misconceptions about Dalits, and discrimination leads to atrocities against them. For example, due to the perception against them, a Dalit is not eligible to touch anything, be it water, any physical thing or the temple. Therefore, if a Dalit touches water, the belief is that it is considered polluted and impure.
BridgIT partners with India's Society for Rural Health, Education & Development (SRHED) in Chittoor District and Sri K. Pitchi Reddy Educational and Welfare Society (SPREAWS) in Kadapa and Kurnool District. Both SRHED and SPREAWS are reaching out to the poorest of the poor in target areas without discrimination of caste, colour, or creed to meet their basic human needs of food, water and shelter to improve their quality of life.
The project aims to create sustainable, community-managed water supplies in the target rural villages. Through shared responsibility, the target villages will receive an improved water supply and the learning and ability to implement a management model that the project develops.
Project Area: Chittoor & Kadapa Districts
USD 1,250 starting cost for a complete water project