We’ve spent the last week in India and what an extraordinary week it’s been… From Delhi to Bawal, Achrol, Nayagaon-Kisangadh and Raila, through Chittorgarh, Banswara, Dahod and Halol, meeting so many people along the way and hearing their water stories first-hand.
During marathon number 23, we passed through a village that used to have a well that has now dried up completely, so now they get their water from tanks. The difference around this village was horrifying - how they’ve had to survive with no water… It’s completely dry, there are no crops, it’s a very obvious and stark contrast between how life is with water and how life is without.
This is Gopal: a 65-year-old farmer from Mehgras. He owns his own land, but due to a lack of water he can’t afford to farm it, so he has to work for other farmers, on their land.
It really struck me, this week, how we take water for granted. We turn on a tap and clean, fresh water magically pours out and so we don’t think about where it comes from - and what might happen if it disappears. That’s not the case in India. This little boy has a deep understanding of where water comes from because he has to carry it home in a heavy bottle. How many 3-year-olds in other countries have that awareness?
Mahya is 16 years old. She fetches water from a communal well 2km away every day - her family can’t afford to buy water from water tankers. Women carrying water is something we’ve seen over and over again: it’s the custom in India for women to fetch the water, and this often means having to walk to wells many kilometres away. It can take hours every day because each pot only carries around 10 to 15 litres of water (which weighs a staggering 10 to 15kg).
We met this woman on her way back home after collecting water from one of the groundwater wells. Having to walk long distances to carry water home is part of these women’s daily life. But at least they have water in their wells.
We’ve seen a lot of empty wells in the last few days, due to dwindling groundwater levels. Some of them are up to 80 foot deep, and completely dry. I’ve met and talked to so many women around these wells - many of them have to wait for electricity to come on to pump from the well. They’re dependent on the power to get water from these wells which are almost dry. Once the wells run dry, they have to wait for tankers to deliver water to their homes - that’s what is happening here…
In many ways, India feels like a whole different world - but it’s a world with a reminder to all of us to be more conscious of our water use. There have been many stories of hope, too, and I’m sharing those - along with the water heroes I meet along the way - on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Please join me, and join the conversation, and let’s work together to find solutions for this global water crisis that is only too real, and immediate, in India.