Jul 30, 2013

The Burden of Water

We are so used to our comforts that we forget to think about them who are struggling for their basic needs! Water, a basic need, is scarce today. The lucky ones who have access are not so careful enough to use it judiciously and the unlucky ones have to travel huge distances in search of it.

The Problem
  • Water scarcity
  • Distance to water source
  • Carrying back water home
Few years from now, cities in India will face major water crisis and the next major crisis to follow will be managing the sanitation. Foreseeing this, large scale projects have been initiated; water lines, sewage lines and treatment plants are being planned. The above mentioned problems are being tackled, to what extent they will be successful only time will tell. This is the scenario in cities.

The BIGGER question is: What about the villages of India where drinking water is a precious commodity? In spite of all technological developments, even today major parts of India are dependent on weather. When summers are extreme, monsoons fail; bore wells become defunct, ponds and lakes too dry up, where does the common man go to get a glass of drinking water? District administration does step in to supply water through takers, but most villages are not connected. People have to walk long distances to collect their daily requirement of drinking water.


Problem within problem

The onus is most often on the womenfolk of the house to collect water, from distant water sources. And as if waiting in the serpentine queues at water sources is not enough, they have to carry back water in huge pots on their head. Women in the age group 7 to 70 are involved in this daily chore. Day after day they keep doing the same work.

Where is awareness about the damage they are causing to their back?

Load: approx 20 litres
Distance: .500 kms plus
Method: Container on head
After effects:
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • adverse physical stress
  • accumulation of fatigue damage
  • degenerative changes in bone and soft tissues
  • death during child birth

The Solution

CYNTHIYA KOENIG has done a wonderful job in getting to the crux of the problem within the problem. Reinventing the wheel to solve what was never seen as a problem and what was taken for granted for centuries! It requires a human heart to feel the pain of your co-citizen of this world! I am touched by the initiative she has taken on this.

Thank you Cynthiya Koenig for thinking about this silent but critical problem concerning women!

Her invention, an idea which may look simple to all but occured to none, is WELLO a waterwheel! It is ergonomically designed hence very convenient to use. It can transport 5 times the quantity that can be done individually at a time. Once stored, the water remains clean with nil chance of contamination. The unit is durable and costs Rs. 750 to 1000. This is quite affordable. Though families below poverty line will definitely need some monetary aid. Picture of the water wheel from www.wellowater.org .


What are the other possible solutions?

Even today it is the menfolk who run the show in families; they should be made aware of the consequences their womenfolk are going to face due to this routine chore. Physical loading of the body within an individual's capacity is okay. It can lead to tissue strengthening, but loading beyond one’s capacity can cause irreversible damage in the body.

Some more possible solutions:
  • Invest in methods for easy access of water
  • Educate women about the negative impact of carrying heavy load on heads
  • Transport water with WELLO, which is designed for rugged terrain of Rajasthan
  • Invest in wheel barrows.
  • Invest in bicycles to transport water (costlier option than Wello though.).

Net result

This innovation has proved to be a boon for many women. Young girls have time to attend schools; women can channelize their energy and time to other financially profitable work. The benefits of Wello are many:
  • Saves time and energy for more productive work
  • Reduces investments on health problem
  • Reduces global disease burden
  • Saves lives!

Here is a video of Cynthiya Koenig presenting a solution to one of the most pressing ‘water’ problems of India. Watch and know more.
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41 comments:

DeniseinVA said...

Cynthiya Koenig came up with an amazing invention. Thank you for sharing this post Indrani. Some of the things we take for granted are not so in other parts of the world. It is important to be made aware of this.

Sylvia K said...

What a great post, Indrani, and information that is so needed!! Koering's invention is amazing indeed! And, yes, so many of us take so many things in our world for granted! A great reminder to all of us! Thank you!!

TexWisGirl said...

we take so much for granted here in the US.

George said...

Thank you for an interesting, informative post. We all need to be more considerate in our use of the world's precious resources.

Mina Menon said...

So simple but must be so useful!

EG CameraGirl said...

For sure we have it easy in Canada when it comes to water! This was a very interesting post, Indrani.

Nora at Island Rambles said...

Water is the source of life...I think this is a very informative post..Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. cheers.

Indrani said...

Thank you Denise, Sylvia, TexWisGirl! Yes Cynthiya Koenig solved what we had taken for granted for ages, women carrying water pots on head. They make a beautiful picture to paint, frame and put up on walls.

Most of us are ignorant of the damage they are doing to their health!

Indrani said...

Thank you George for the comment. Yes, the more we conserve the more we can share.

Indrani said...

Thank you Mina for the comment. This indeed is one of the best inventions for women of this century!

Indrani said...

Thank you Norw, Thank you friends for your comments and words of appreciation.

Athenas Take said...

We women are used to carrying everything on our heads including tensions, this invention will surely bring down the matka load and your writing will surely bring down their tensions. Kudos to you and all other women who are trying to make our lives better and easier.

Bob Bushell said...

Carrying pots on their heads is a travesty, it must be stopped.

Indrani said...

Thank you Athenas Take for sharing your thoughts... :) carrying tensions too on our head... how true! Cynthiya Koenig has given the best gift to the womenfolk, i hope it reaches out to more and more women.

Gert Jan Hermus said...

What a great post! This is indeed a serious global problem. More and more people don't have access to clean water. It is a mutual responsibility to solve this!

Indrani said...

Thank you Bob. That indeed is a strong protest to this 'silent killer'. Carrying load on head should be banned.

Indrani said...

Thank you Gert for the appreciation. This is my humble attempt to highlight the problem and bring across the solution invented by Cynthiya Koenig.

ashok said...

One of your best posts...and an important and timely one too

S. Anupam said...

Wonderfully pointed and good Solution! had liked Vajpayee's idea of interstate transfer of water but alas! it could n't get implemented.

Indrani said...

Thank you Ashok.

lively lawry said...

Hi Indrani,
This is a wonderful solution which we can feature in our Ecoideaz collection. please do check - http://www.caleidoscope.in/category/eco-ideaz
regards
Levine

Indrani said...

Please feel free to share the post.

ladyfi said...

What a great idea!

CYNOSURE said...

nice post Indrani...a great initiative I must say...
unfortunately many such problems are getting ignored these days...

MastHoliday said...

Great post, Indrani! narrated beautifully.
thanks for sharing

Rajesh said...

Great initiative to transport water. At least some people think about others.

Sangeeta said...

Indrani Ji,you have remarkably presented the water woes and grievances of women.NGOs should also come forward to persuade the sufferers to conserve water in their own area.A few years back India Today had published such an article...Wellow must prove of great help.

Onkar said...

Great invention. Excellent post on a burning issue.

mysay.in said...

Indrani .. this is very thoughtful post .. I had seen the video and I can feel the kind of relief this simple water carrier can give to all the suffering women .. I wish Wello could have been distributed free to the needy by the Govt and NGOs

Priti Singh said...

Interesting read....and this concept is totally mind blowing!!!

Swarnalatha R said...

Well highlighted, Indrani, both the problem and the solution...

Indrani said...

Thanks for reading S. Anupam. If safe drinking water can be supplied to each and every village, so many other problems wouldn't take shape.

Yes Ladifi, it is a great idea. Wello does transport more water in one trip in a safe way. The women would have otherwise taken many trips, each time breaking their back.

Thanks Cynosure. We often take age old processes granted and don't think much about its consequences. Glad Cynthia Koenig went a step ahead and made their life easy.

So true Rajesh. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Many thanks Onkar and MastHoliday.

Indrani said...

Thank you Sangeeta for reading and commenting. Very often various magazines have highlighted problems related to problem, but this solution is unque. In one go a person can save five trips.
Wello is indeed one of the best inventions of this century.

Hi Jack (mysay.in), you spoke well, I too wish there are initiatives to provide Wello free to women living in dire poverty. Thank you for commenting.

Yes Priti, this solution, the thoughtfulness of Cynthiya Koenig impressed me beyond words. Thanks a lot for the comment.

Thank you dear Swarna for your words of appreciation. It means a lot to me.

Simran said...

A great post with an awakening message...
Wonderful!

Best wishes

Ritesh Agarwal said...

Hi Indirani...living in a metro city, some of us are barely conscious of the magnitude of water scarcity...good post...best of luck

Indrani said...

Thank you Simran for the compliment.

Hi Ritesh, i agree with you, city life has kind of spoiled us. Getting access to drinking water and carrying it back home is still a nightmare for many in the villages. thank you for reading and connecting.

amasc said...

What an elegant and deceptively simple solution to an often overlooked problem. Thanks for opening my eyes to this.

Indrani said...

Hi Amsac, your appreciation for this invention is so well expressed in those few words. Thanks for reading and connecting.

Kajal Banerjee said...

In some villages people have to trudge miles to get water while we enjoy wasting water in cities. The concern you have shared for the scarcity of water along with the noble effort of a great soul to transport clean water should be lauded sincerely. A GREAT POST!

Indrani said...

Thank you Kajal Banerjee. You are so right. The difficult roads of desert, the scarcity of water and women breaking their back, all screaming for attention for long. Cynthiya's invention is a boon for them. I hope it reaches to many there.

Neo Prady said...

Very well written Indrani and very informative too. All d best.