“Strengthening Water and Sanitation in Urban Settings” in short called “The Wash Program” (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) has been launched in India by the U.S Agency for International Development and Terry University in association with Coca Cola recently. The WASH program aims to reach 50,000 beneficiaries in low-income settlements and 2,500 students (through 20 municipal schools across India).
Even after 68 years of our independence, only two Indian cities have continuous water supply and an approximate 69% of Indians still lack access to improved sanitation facilities. Drinking water supply and sanitation in India continue to be inadequate, despite longstanding efforts by the various levels of government and communities.
A report issued on September 2007 from the UN office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, says
"It is now time to consider access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, defined as the right to equal and non-discriminatory access to a sufficient amount of safe drinking water for personal and domestic uses—drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation and personal and household hygiene—to sustain life and health. States should prioritize these personal and domestic uses over other water uses and should take steps to ensure that this sufficient amount is of good quality, affordable for all and can be collected within a reasonable distance from a person's home."
Access to sufficient clean and safe water for personal and domestic use is a human right. The right to water, places the main responsibilities upon governments to ensure it. Governments are expected to provide adequate basic living conditions like water and sanitation to each and every citizens and it is supposed to be the main responsibility of the Government.
The lack of adequate sanitation and safe water has significant negative health impacts. Inadequate water supply and sanitary facilities in family set ups could lead to dehydration and cause contagious diseases like cholera, diarrhea etc. It will adversely affect the overall health of the family members. A survey of the working conditions of sewage workers in Delhi showed that most of them suffer from chronic diseases, respiratory problems, skin disorders, allergies, headaches and eye infections.
By Providing adequate water supply and sanitary facilities to each and every family, we can build a fundamentally healthy and proud society. Along with implementing the technological advancement programs like Digital India, Government’s focus should also be on providing the basic needs such as clean water to drink and proper sanitation facilities.
Several initiatives have been done by Governments and other organizations so far to improve the situation and still the inadequacy in this most important area continues to be severe. The WASH program is one of the latest initiatives by the association of Coca Cola with Terry University and USAID. Let us hope their efforts will reach out to the expected needy citizens.