Photos: Coursing towards clean drinking water in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker

In Kanker, a district located in the southern most region of Chhattisgarh, the presence of high fluoride levels in drinking water is gradually becoming a critical health hazard for the 1.25 lakh inhabitants of nearly 400 habitations with cases of dental fluorosis becoming identifiers of whole villages. A report by Ishita Rampal of WaterAid India compiles the impact of collaborative district-wide testing for fluoride levels, and a mitigation approach involving gram panchayat volunteers and agencies in raising awareness and setting up filtration projects to reign in fluoride.

Updated On Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST
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A woman walks to collect water in Dumarpani village, Chattisgarh. Globally around 844 million people struggle to access water. And while access itself remains a hard reality for millions in India, the quality of water accessed is a greater issue among some of the most impoverished people and regions. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

A woman walks to collect water in Dumarpani village, Chattisgarh. Globally around 844 million people struggle to access water. And while access itself remains a hard reality for millions in India, the quality of water accessed is a greater issue among some of the most impoverished people and regions. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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This Class VI student ails from dental fluorosis from contaminated water at home and school. High fluoride levels are becoming a critical health hazard in Kanker, a district in the southern most region of Chhattisgarh. As per National Rural Drinking Water Programme, around 400 habitations or 1.25 lakh people are affected by fluoride contamination in rural Chhattisgarh. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

This Class VI student ails from dental fluorosis from contaminated water at home and school. High fluoride levels are becoming a critical health hazard in Kanker, a district in the southern most region of Chhattisgarh. As per National Rural Drinking Water Programme, around 400 habitations or 1.25 lakh people are affected by fluoride contamination in rural Chhattisgarh. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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Fluoride can occur in drinking water naturally as a result of the geological composition of soil and bedrock but excessive intake affects teeth and bones. For Badepara village, rampant mining has meant increased fluoride in the water. Severe pain in her knees and ankles, and a gradual curvature in her backbone have made household chores difficult for 50-year-old Manbha Sohri as a result. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

Fluoride can occur in drinking water naturally as a result of the geological composition of soil and bedrock but excessive intake affects teeth and bones. For Badepara village, rampant mining has meant increased fluoride in the water. Severe pain in her knees and ankles, and a gradual curvature in her backbone have made household chores difficult for 50-year-old Manbha Sohri as a result. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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Volunteers Vasudev Sahu and Bhuneshwar Patel travel to villages to conduct water tests. Understanding the water problem, WaterAid India intervened into the community and undertook testing of water sources across the district. A group of 40 volunteers from 20 gram panchayats were also trained on conducting regular water testing procedures as part of an integrated approach for fluoride mitigation. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

Volunteers Vasudev Sahu and Bhuneshwar Patel travel to villages to conduct water tests. Understanding the water problem, WaterAid India intervened into the community and undertook testing of water sources across the district. A group of 40 volunteers from 20 gram panchayats were also trained on conducting regular water testing procedures as part of an integrated approach for fluoride mitigation. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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Bhuneshwar Patel, 25, has been working on water testing, conducting water-based surveys and thus ensuring clean water access for the villagers as part of the approach. Water sources, such as handpumps, are tested twice a year (pre and post monsoons) before their status is reported. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

Bhuneshwar Patel, 25, has been working on water testing, conducting water-based surveys and thus ensuring clean water access for the villagers as part of the approach. Water sources, such as handpumps, are tested twice a year (pre and post monsoons) before their status is reported. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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The Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) has provided field testing kits (FTKs) to every gram panchayat and the reports are submitted to it. The water sources in the village as well as near each school and anganwadi were also tested. The ones safe to use were marked in green, while the others were marked red or black. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

The Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) has provided field testing kits (FTKs) to every gram panchayat and the reports are submitted to it. The water sources in the village as well as near each school and anganwadi were also tested. The ones safe to use were marked in green, while the others were marked red or black. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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Tests revealed that the water from the handpumps had over 3ppm of fluoride in it –twice the maximum permissible limit. In order to deal with the problem, water filters like this one at a primary school in Chotepara village have now been set up at centrally located public spaces, dispensing water with fluoride within permissible limits. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

Tests revealed that the water from the handpumps had over 3ppm of fluoride in it –twice the maximum permissible limit. In order to deal with the problem, water filters like this one at a primary school in Chotepara village have now been set up at centrally located public spaces, dispensing water with fluoride within permissible limits. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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Thalkuwar Mandavi, 57, a school principal observes results of a water contamination test in Chotepara. Before the filters, a bucket of high fluoride water left outside for a couple of hours at the school would change colour. Long-term consumption of clean water along with dietary changes, such as the inclusion of green leafy vegetables in meals, will help ensure good health among residents. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

Thalkuwar Mandavi, 57, a school principal observes results of a water contamination test in Chotepara. Before the filters, a bucket of high fluoride water left outside for a couple of hours at the school would change colour. Long-term consumption of clean water along with dietary changes, such as the inclusion of green leafy vegetables in meals, will help ensure good health among residents. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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However, the villages at large still experience water contamination and its after effects. Doctors like Dr Vinod Baidya, at the Komal Dev District Hospital, Kanker have been actively involved in holding medical camps, raising general awareness and providing mobility support to people with impaired movement after fluorosis. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

However, the villages at large still experience water contamination and its after effects. Doctors like Dr Vinod Baidya, at the Komal Dev District Hospital, Kanker have been actively involved in holding medical camps, raising general awareness and providing mobility support to people with impaired movement after fluorosis. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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This awareness is helping villages be more alert about the disease and health. As a mandate, the mid-day meal at schools is also being prepared with the dietary needs of the children in mind. And while large scale, long term solutions are needed for greater impact, these gradual efforts help the conversation about clean drinking water gain momentum. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 03:41 PM IST

This awareness is helping villages be more alert about the disease and health. As a mandate, the mid-day meal at schools is also being prepared with the dietary needs of the children in mind. And while large scale, long term solutions are needed for greater impact, these gradual efforts help the conversation about clean drinking water gain momentum. (Prashanth Vishwanathan / WaterAid)

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