Local administrators and community members from villages in Pune, Latur and Osmanabad will receive special training in water conservation over the next three years. The initiative — Drops of Hope — by UNICEF India and Bridgestone kicked off on Tuesday, the World Environment Day. Through the training on ‘Water Conservation and Drinking Water Security’, UNICEF India plans to help villagers build water supply structures as well as maintain them. The project will focus on training and skill development of community members and key officials at the village, block and district levels to build water supply structures and ensure their proper maintenance.
UNICEF India representative Yasmine Ali Haque said that the project is not exclusive to one NGO or academic institution or government institution. “It’s about how we can pull them all together,” she said adding that the role of the local panchayat was important. “They ultimately control the resources that are available to them (the local communities),” she said.
When asked how the project would sustain after three years, Haque said, “Once the community buys into something, they will sustain it. Once they see the economic benefit, they will sustain it.”
Haque said, “There are of course some things beyond the control of the community, and so we’re (the project) going in with a learning mentality so that we see it as not just looking at water but also what affects the water within the community.”
The launch event featured a panel discussion, at which Shekhar Gaikwad, Director, Groundwater Survey and Development Agency, said various government schemes were being dealt with in a political manner and not in the interest of the villages. Sham Lal Goyal, Chief Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation, delivered the keynote address.