Water to Power
Established in 1996 Dharti started Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme at Ambah block in 2003 since water and sanitation facilities were seen to be directly linked with dignity and gender based discrimination. During the baseline survey it was revealed that only 7 per cent of the population had some access to sanitation facilities. The survey also showed that availability of drinking water availability was also poor. Further this analysis of the baseline information showed that this problem was more severe among the scheduled castes, tribes and the Other Backward castes. Dharti thereafter began its efforts in five villages of Ambah block in 2003, where the problem was understood to be the most severe. The number of villages slowly increased to 13 by 2005. In 2008, DHARTI had its operation in about 30 panchayats of Ambah block.
Nayapura village of Khireta panchayat of Ambah Block had a total of 158 households. This included 90 households belonging to the Scheduled Caste community whereas the remaining 68 belonged to the higher castes. The higher castes were the Brahmins and Thakurs. The sanitation condition of this village was also poor. The village did not have a single toilet. The village had five hand pumps of which two were constructed for use of the SC community. The other caste groups had access to three hand pumps and they had resources with them to construct another three. Thus among 68 families they had six hand pumps and 90 households belonging to SCs had two hand pumps of which one would always be defective. Thus fetching water for drinking as well as for other household chores was a difficult proposition and women from the SC community had a real difficult time.
Dharti started its intervention in village Nayapura in 2008. The primary objective was then to provide equality to the deprived class. Dharti, as part of its effort to understand the community carried out a PRA exercise. This included social mapping, resource mapping, wealth ranking, identifying issues related to disease, drinking water and civic amenities, etc. The social mapping and resource distribution map both showed that one section of the community which had most of the resources and was relatively well off stayed on one location whereas the SC community lived at another location. The landholding pattern also showed that about 800 ha of good quality land out of the 1,000 ha available was in the hands of the dominant group whereas the remaining land which was slightly of lower quality belonged to the SC community. The study also gave insights into the non-availability of civic amenities like the sanitation facilities, overcrowding and waste of time to collect drinking water and water for household activities. These issues were discussed in small groups and the organisation came to realise the prevalence of illness among the children and women which was understood to have been because of poor sanitation and unhygienic living conditions. This was thus understood to be the first set of action points for the organisation to focus upon.