Saturday, 23 February 2013

Day 5 Gwalior to Bhopal- Erica

We had a small lie in today, up at 7 not 5.30! We left Gwalior by train and headed to Bhopal.
On the train we had lunch and drinks provided by 'meals on wheels'. I tried to explain to Sharesh, one of the WaterAid India guys what meals on wheels were in the uk...i think something was lost in translation!
As we chugged south there was the odd palm tree in the middle of a field of grain and we knew it would be hot when we got to our destination. 
After 5 hours we pulled into Bhopal station. We where whisked off to the Amer Hotel and as we zoomed through the streets I could instantly tell this was a different kind of city to Gwalior. 2 million people live in Bhopal, it was busy! There was rubbish everywhere and cows eating from skips full of waste. There were people washing in the green/grey river as plastic and other debris floated past which had tumbled down from the river bank.

After a day of travelling we were meeting WaterAid partners and officials from local Government to talk about water and sanitation issues. We heard from some of WaterAid India's partners about their work. The aim is to empower the people they work with so they can get what they deserve. They want to mobilise communities to take advantage of government schemes like the total sanitation scheme and the piped water scheme. It was confirmed that India does have the money and resourses but it doesn't do the implimentation very well or the after care to make sure pumps and toilets actually work! WaterAid and its partners work with communities on behavioural change and soft skills rather than hardware, they leave a lots of that to the government. WaterAid train the people to be able to maintain the infrastructure and creat committees which collect water bills so they can look after the supplies into.the future. This makes the work sustainable because people take ownership of their situation. People motivated and committed, thats what makes WaterAid's projects sustainable.

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