Grassroot Youth Democracy project
Workshop with the students
Vivekananda Wisdom Missic, Mankundu, Kolkata
SCI India & Human Wave, India
the access to
Fresh & Clean Water
small steps create big changes
We are in Mankundu, 40 km from Kolkata.
Today's schedule included a workshop on water conservation in a local school.
Our plan was to find out, together with the students, why is it that people believe water is a human right and why are activists and citizens all over the world fighting for it.
We started with asking them what Human Rights are. Some of the students had never heard about the existence of them. "Human Rights are rights we all have", said Mandina Pal aged 14. "Without Human Rights you cannot live. They are essential to life", said Sourav Seal aged 16.
We then wrote on a poster all the Human Rights coming to our minds. Water was the first Human Right to be recognized. It was clear to all the students attending the workshop that without water one cannot live. Not just human beings need water, also do animal and plants. "No water, no life. No blue, no Green"
Without water, all other human rights are useless. Water is the Queen of Human rights, the prerequiste to the exercise of each and every one of them.
If it was so obvious that water is a Human Right and not a commercial good to a class of a local middle school in India’s countryside - 40 km away from Kolkota - , how come the United Nation's General Assembly took decades to recognize it as a Right, and officially did only in 2010?
If water belongs to everyone, why 750 million people do not have access to safe water? Why are some corporations grabbing a natural resource, claiming water is their own property and selling it in the market?
We asked the students those questions. All of a sudden, the debate got intense, and students understood the contradictions and financial interests lying under the claim that water is a human right.
We have then presented our project to the students, explaining the purpose of our research and global campaign, asking them to be a part of it and fight with us.
Two games helped us getting them in the mood.
We split the class into two teams and challenged them to put in order the following continents: Asia, Africa, South America, North America and Europe, according to:
1) The amount of natural water resources.
2) The percentage of population having access to safe and clean water.
It was a big surprise indeed to compare their guesses with reality!
The amount of natural resources of one continent, has nothing to do with the possibility of its people to have access to fresh and drinkable water.
The second game was intended to make the students think about water-related illnesses. The two teams had to order the following diseases according to the number of deaths caused between children under 5 : TBC, AIDS, Malaria and Diarrhea.
Diarrhea is a water-related illness and it is caused by unsafe water. It was a surprise to the students that TBC, Malaria and AIDS put together kill less children than Diarrhea alone. Even more surprising to find out the immediate cure to Diarrhea : one litre of drinkable water, a pinch of salt and a spoon of sugar, as illustrated on the cover of the Magazine Time in 2006. Then why are 1000 children each day dying of diarrhea and infective diseases linked to unsafe water all over the world? "Beacuse many people do not have access to safe water", said the student Dayel Saha.
However, it is mainly because of ignorance. If Diarrhea causes more deaths than TBC, Malaria and AIDS put together, nonetheless there are no international campaings and donations or "World days" for Diarrhea as there are for AIDS, TBC and Malaria. Clean water doesn't seem to be a hot topic to campaign on, yet, improper sanitation and unsafe water kill more children than anything else.
This is why we asked the students attending the workshop to tell their families and friends about the importance of drinking safe water.
We then asked every student to think about how people in India could fight for water as a human right and how could each of us help to improve and implement the effectiveness of water rights in India.
Have a look at the ides and solutions found by students aged between 14 and 18 of a local school 40km away from Kolkota which would help solving the water-related problems India is currently facing.
How can we help
Small steps create big changes
-Water from taps must be clean & drinkable
-Law against waste of water
- Water counters in homes to prevent water waste
-Indian students should raise awareness to those who are not educated
-Our own behaviour has to change assmall steps create big changes
-Municipalities should supply drinkable water & water of other uses in separated channels
-Rain water harvesting
-Tell the companies to not sell water!
-Advertising against water waste in local areas
-Request the government to provide fresh water to all
-Help poor people who don't have fresh water
-Minimize water pollution
-Don’t allow drain water to enter the rivers
-Don’t allow companies to let water into the rivers before purification
-The installation of saline filtering plants
-To clean the garbage from the places that are near the water bodies
-Not to use plastic, but biodegradable items
The participants :
Dayel Saha, Piyali Pal, Sukanya Das, Mandina Pal, Roshni Gayen, Juno Gaha Roy, Kobito Malakar, Dipika Roy, Sagasika Mukherjee, Arpita Mondal,Sarkar, Anusree Adhikary, Sourav Seal, D. Bhattacharjee, Sarah Hennig, Jaimoe Kaiser, Jasmin Iwanek, Neha Kumari Shaw, Ushusree Adhikary, Tumpa Roy Ehowdhwy Karrosik M, Mr. Tapas, Kausik, Benedetta Ruffini, Andromachi Karoni
We thank each and every one of you for your participation and involvement!
It is a pleasure and an honour to meet the youth of the country and exchange our beliefs and thoughts.