from the field: slums of Delhi full of waste, sewage — and no clean water

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Founder Scott Harrison is in India all this week, assessing communities’ water needs and learning from local partners and other organizations. He’ll be blogging from the field as he travels, so stay tuned for more. Here’s the latest:

Anyone that’s ever set foot in a slum knows there aren’t ready-made solutions to the many challenges there. I took the pictures above yesterday while out with WaterAid’s team in New Delhi. Here, like in thousands of slums around the world, the thousands of occupants are not recognized by the government, even after 50 years, and must fend for themselves.

WaterAid has been working to bring better sanitation to the people in both slums, but there haven’t been any obvious solutions to the water problems. In Zakhira, the slum sits next to train tracks in a valley on greasy soil, and the groundwater is black and oily. The community here has hacked into a water line that’s been serving as a temporary solution, but field workers told us it’s just a matter of time until it will be disconnected.

In Rangpuri Bahadi, large collections of standing water and sewage contaminate the aquifers feeding the six wells dotted throughout the slum. WaterAid has been petitioning the government to bring water into the slums and has worked with community members to build several latrines that restore some dignity and serve as lone bright spots here.

charity: water is looking to expand our impact in India, and I’m learning from aid groups WaterAid and Water for People this week in Delhi, Lucknow and Calcutta.

– Scott Harrison
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