Sanitation, Health and Hygiene Orientation Program with slum kids, Bangalore
As a part of GIZ’s Indo-German Partnership program, around 15 boys from different slums in Bangalore were chosen for a ten day cricket coaching camp that was held in the NRA Grounds, Benson Town, Bangalore. Most of these kids are residents of Kamraj road and a few of them are from a hostel in Nagavara. Along with the cricket coaching, GiZ wanted to integrate a Sanitation, Health and Hygiene program for which Biome was the knowledge and resource provider.
The boys who were in the age group of 14-17 years, had a fairly good idea about the source of water to their homes, other possible sources and rainwater harvesting. Almost all of them did have BWSSB water supply connection to their homes. Some of them did have filters in their home to purify the water.
Bacterial contamination of drinking water is one of the major causes of diarrhoea which in turn is a major cause of infant deaths in developing countries. In order to sensitise the boys towards quality of drinking water, a simple H2S strip test was demonstrated to them. H2S strip test is an onsite testing method to detect the presence of Hydrogen Sulphide producing bacteria in water. The test involves adding the sample water into a sterilized bottle which has a sterilized paper strip. If the water sample has bacteria which produce Hydrogen Sulphide, then the water will turn black in colour within 36 hours. This is a simple indicator of the presence of bacteria and thereby ensuring that the water is not of potable quality.
The second demonstration was on eliminating the bacteria from the sample through abundantly available solar radiation. Solar Disinfection, commonly called SODIS requires the affected sample to be filled in a plastic bottle and exposed to sunlight for around 8 hours on a clear sunny day. It can be exposed for an increased duration if the sky is cloudy.
The third demonstration was a modified version of a Tippy Tap. A Tippy Tap allows the user to wash his/ her hands with soap without ever touching the tap with their soapy hands and thus preventing wastage of water. It generally has a foot operated lever which is connected to a jerry can filled with the water and having a hole on its neck. The jerry can is suspended on a stick which in turn is propped up on a couple of sticks on either ends. When the user presses the lever with his/ her foot, the can tilts and discharges water in a trickle through the hole in its neck. To drive home the principle behind a Tippy Tap, a plastic bottle filled with water was taken and the Biome resource washed his soapy hands with the water being discharged through the open cap of the bottle. The amount of water used was noted by marking the drop in water level. Next, another similar bottle filled with water and with a hole in its neck was taken to wash soapy hands. The water used was much lesser than before. This demonstration attempted to introduce two vital behavioural changes in the boys viz. Washing with soap before eating and using water more wisely.
Illustration: Distribution of H2S strip vials and demonstration of hand wash using less water
To reinforce the lessons learnt, the boys were given two H2S strip vials each to test their drinking water samples and report back their observations a week later. Almost all the kids except one reported that the water did not turn black, but rather a light shade of brown which indicates the absence of bacteria. One boy who observed the water turning black had subjected the sample to SODIS. After SODIS, he tested the same sample for bacterial presence using the second H2S strip bottle and observed that the water did not turn black. The results reported by the students presents a good case for the BWSSB’s efforts in treating the water pumped from the Cauvery which is no mean task considering the fact that we are talking of volumes to the tune of around 1200-1400 million litres a day. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see if the kids do spread their new learnings to their peer group as well.