How Bhopal’s Decentralised Water Access Is Providing Adequate Handwashing Infrastructure During COVID-19 Pandemic

How Bhopal’s Decentralised Water Access Is Providing Adequate Handwashing Infrastructure During COVID-19 Pandemic

Slum dwellers have inadequate facilities for water, sanitation, and hygiene; while we say frequent hand washing is the biggest weapon against COVID-19, here’s how WaterAid India and Aarambh NGO helped them access hand washing infrastructure
Global Handwashing Day: How Bhopal’s Decentralised Water Access Is Providing Adequate Handwashing Infrastructure During COVID-19 PandemicHand washing with soap is a cost-effective public health intervention: WaterAid India
  • Handwashing is a challenge for slum dwellers who face water scarcity
  • WaterAid India, Aarambh set up decentralised water system in Bhopal slums
  • The system enables slum dwellers to have access to hand washing infrastruce

New Delhi: Access to clean water is essential for inculcating and sustaining handwashing practices, which have assumed importance as key method to prevent COVID-19. NGO Aarambh WaterAid India has set up a decentralised water distribution system 15 slums in Madhya Pradesh’s capital Bhopal. In these 15 intervention slums for regular water requirements, around 73 households are dependent on one borewell, whereas 746 households from four intervention slums are dependent on water supplied by tankers. It is a normal site to witness crowding, long queues, and quarrels among the slum dwellers near community water points. On the arrival of the tanker, riot-like situations breakout where every resident tries to get their share before the water finishes, shares the spokesperson from WaterAid India. In such conditions, maintaining physical distancing is a luxury for the slum dwellers. In fact, it can be a potential threat to the spread of coronavirus, apart from the struggle to access water, for frequent handwashing and hygiene upkeep.

Global Handwashing Day: How Bhopal’s Decentralised Water Access Is Providing Adequate Handwashing Infrastructure During COVID-19 Pandemic
In these slums, on the arrival of the tanker, riot-like situations are created wherein every resident tries to get their share before the water finishes, shared the spokesperson from WaterAid India

To help combat the situation, WaterAid India and Aarambh, a Bhopal-based NGO, have demonstrated a decentralised water distribution system. The spokesperson from WaterAid India explained,

Under this system, multiple water points have been provided to the community from the borewell. This has reduced the dependency rate to approximately four households per water point. This system has not only facilitated proper physical distancing between the residents but has also helped in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Aarambh has demonstrated ten such models in eight intervention slums. The conditions in these slums are now far better than other slums. With the water supply, we have been urging the population to frequently wash hands and save lives – of themselves and their community members’.

In Anandpura, a slum situated in ward 62 of Bhopal city, the decentralised water distribution system has been established and is maintained by the women’s group of the slum. Abida Bi, the president of women’s committee proudly claimed,

We have succeeded in preventing the spread of the coronavirus in our slum by sealing the entry and exit points. We are not allowing any one to go out of the slum or to gather in one place. Earlier, water was a big issue, for which we had to go to the borewell and wait for our turn. If that situation had still existed, then perhaps we would not have been able to stop the spread of the virus in our slum.

Also Read: Global Handwashing Day 2020: Handwashing Is Still A Challenge In India, Here’s Why

Stating that now they had enough water for their needs, Sayra Khan of the same slum said that they were now able to frequently wash their hands, carefully sanitise their groceries and maintain proper hygiene.

In the 100 Quarter slum of ward 63, one stand-post is being used by around four families. When the lockdown was enforced, they went a step further to safely fulfil their water requirement. Households using water from the same stand-post jointly arranged a plastic pipe and each household takes turns to bring water to their home through that pipe.

Hakki Bai, one of the residents of the slum, says,

The surroundings of the borewell from where we fetched water are very unhygienic. But now we have ease in accessing water, which helps us in maintaining proper hygiene and we can wash our hands whenever we want!

In the Nehru Nagar slum of ward 63, the whole community has been covered under the decentralised water distribution system through 33 stand-posts with 66 taps.

Global Handwashing Day: How Bhopal’s Decentralised Water Access Is Providing Adequate Handwashing Infrastructure During COVID-19 Pandemic
In Bhopal’s Nehru Nagar slum, the whole community has been covered under the decentralised water distribution system through 33 stand-posts with 66 taps

The case was a little different in this slum which has encountered four cases of coronavirus in three households. The first infected person was a girl who had visited relatives in Ahmedabad. The other cases were from adjacent houses.

Also Read: Global Handwashing Day 2020: 77 Per Cent People Changed Their Handwashing Habits Due To COVID-19, Finds A Study By WaterAid India

Farhat Khan, a member of the women’s group says,

The infection spread only to those three houses because they were fetching water from the same stand-post. If all of us had been gathering at the same borewell as we used to earlier, it is possible that this virus would not have spared a single house in the slum.

The decentralised water distribution system has also been implemented in Baskhedi slum of ward 83, but in a different way. Here, the entire community is dependent on tankers for their water supply. When the tanker arrives, people forget all about physical distancing; the only thing that stays in their mind is to get the water before it finishes.

After WaterAid India and Aarambh’s intervention, now, two taps linked to a storage tank have been installed. The tanker fills the storage tank and people fill their water from the taps. Women’s group members monitor the system and ensure that everyone gets sufficient water while maintaining an appropriate physical distance.

The decentralised water distribution system has helped slum communities combat this crisis situation across Bhopal. Access to handwashing infrastructure, along with the establishment of a proper water system, has facilitated the management of fear and the coronavirus.

Also Read: Opinion: Sustained Handwashing Behaviour In India – A Necessity During COVID-19 Pandemic

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.  


Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,66,15,634 and 41,98,750 have died; 6,33,31,644 are active cases and 12,90,85,240 have recovered as on July 30, 2021 at 4:07 am.


3,15,72,344 44,230Cases
4,05,155 1,315Active
3,07,43,972 42,360Recovered
4,23,217 555Deaths
In India, there are 3,15,72,344 confirmed cases including 4,23,217 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,05,155 and 3,07,43,972 have recovered as on July 30, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

62,90,156 7,242

81,933 3,980

60,75,888 11,032

1,32,335 190


33,49,365 22,064

1,55,327 5,287

31,77,453 16,649

16,585 128


29,01,247 2,052

23,277 685

28,41,479 1,332

36,491 35

Tamil Nadu

25,55,664 1,859

21,207 314

25,00,434 2,145

34,023 28

Andhra Pradesh

19,62,049 2,107

21,279 280

19,27,438 1,807

13,332 20

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,373 60

784 16

16,84,834 44


West Bengal

15,26,539 766

11,300 70

14,97,116 822

18,123 14


14,36,144 51

554 19

14,10,541 70



10,01,781 130

2,086 140

9,86,175 270



9,74,132 1,615

15,276 489

9,53,088 2,039

5,768 65


9,53,622 17

259 9

9,44,410 26



8,24,829 27

268 6

8,14,485 33


Madhya Pradesh

7,91,796 18

130 0

7,81,153 18



7,69,858 30

712 10

7,59,516 17

9,630 3


7,24,719 46

481 1

7,14,596 42

9,642 3


6,43,716 623

9,188 126

6,30,732 746

3,796 3


5,99,005 58

553 6

5,82,162 60

16,290 4


5,64,030 1,299

14,114 385

5,44,695 1,664

5,221 20


3,47,105 56

259 22

3,41,720 34



3,41,982 48

669 3

3,33,952 51


Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,207 181

1,144 5

3,15,686 175

4,377 1

Himachal Pradesh

2,05,728 229

1,098 145

2,01,110 84



1,70,900 90

1,077 5

1,66,679 93

3,144 2


1,20,725 98

972 49

1,17,961 49



96,824 1,000

10,895 27

84,408 1,016

1,521 11


78,059 271

3,640 221

73,665 488

754 4


63,745 731

5,750 294

56,933 423

1,062 14


61,948 5

37 1

61,102 4


Arunachal Pradesh

47,477 335

4,252 49

43,000 383

225 1


37,171 764

11,862 252

25,168 511

141 1


27,653 67

1,299 51

25,798 114

556 4


26,132 276

3,297 180

22,498 92

337 4


20,324 4

60 4

20,057 8


Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,643 1

36 5

10,603 6



10,162 7

70 6

10,042 13


Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,534 3

10 3



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