While home to Numi Organic Tea’s largest supplier of organic, Fair Trade black tea, Assam in Northern India is one of India’s poorest states in terms of access to safe drinking water and latrines. Fewer than 1 in 15 households have access to tap water. Many women and children walk up to 3 hours per day to collect and carry water for their families, facing security risks, poor health, and barriers to productive livelihoods.
Drinking unsafe water causes diarrheal diseases fatal in infants and children, cholera, typhoid, and other illnesses that decrease people’s access to education and economic opportunities. Without access to latrines or water for washing, many girls drop out of school when they hit puberty. Not surprisingly, Assam also ranks as second highest among India’s 31 states in girls’ dropout rate before the end of primary school, second to last in women’s work participation, third highest in infant mortality rates, highest in women’s anemia, and highest in crimes against women.
In its work to bring clean, safe drinking water to all of its tea-farming communities, in 2015, The Numi Foundation launched a water campaign called Water for H2OPE. In 2016, WEA, Numi Foundation, and PBET joined forces to take our shared commitment to increasing communities’ access to safe water and sanitation to the next level.
Water for H2OPE will ensure access to clean and functional water systems for all 6,500 residents of the Tonganagaon Tea community using three coordinated strategies: Our team will implement the following water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions:
- Water Treatment. Help the Tonganagoan community learn how to treat water at the household level through filtration and boiling to eliminate bacterial contamination and iron. This is especially critical during the monsoon season, when contamination levels are the highest.
- Safe Storage. Support community members to safely handle and transport water once it is treated so it does not become re-contaminated, through improved storage containers and practices.
- Upgrade Infrastructure. Provide guidance to Chamong Tea Company, who will be improving existing latrines and constructing 900 new facilities over the next 3 years
- Engage the Community. Implement trainings, demonstrations, and communication interventions that catalyze the community’s adoption of good practices in water management, sanitation, and hygiene. The community will also be supported to implement organizational systems to continue to strengthen behavior change work beyond the life of the project. As the primary family members responsible for water management, women will be particularly supported to provide leadership in drinking water behavior change and community organizing
Thanks to the visionary leadership of our partners on the ground, Numi Organic Tea and Chamong Tea Company, we have conducted an assessment and established a baseline of living conditions and water infrastructure at Tonganagaon. The next phase of implementation entails working with one model village to establish tools and techniques to be scaled to all 12 villages.
We seek a group of visionary supporters to join us at the ground level as members of our Seeds of H2OPE Founders Circle—a group of leaders who step forward to catapult this timely project into action. Thanks to Numi Organic Tea and Chamong Tea Company, we have already raised the funding needed to complete the first phase of the project. We are now raising $80,000 to complete the final phase of the project. We invite you to join our Founders Circle by contributing at least $1,500 to the project. One $25,000 patron will be invited to travel with us to Assam to experience the work firsthand!
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