A Step towards Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: A Case of Rural Water Supply in Karnataka
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Access to water is one of the human right, vital for development and well being. Drinking water supply is basic provision that reflect civilized standard of living. Unequal access to water supply is one of the key development challenges for the state. One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Goal 6) is to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 and also to support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water management. India as part of its commitment to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has promised to provide 100% of its population with access to improved water sources by 2030 (According to WHO/UN definition, improved water sources include a mix of piped water, public tap,/stand pipe, tube well/borehole, protected dug well, protected spring and rain water collection (see WHO/UNICEF. http://www.wssinfo.org/definiations-methods/watsan-ladder/, accessed on 30 June, 2013.). water sources by 2030. The Karnataka State Water Policy, 2002 envisage is providing drinking water at the rate of 55 liters per person per day in rural areas. The goal of this paper is to understand the situation of water supply in rural Karnataka and to understand challenges to achieve SDG based on primary and secondary information which is collected from Census documents, the Department of Rural Development & Panchayat Raj and Government of Karnataka and households survey. To elicit household level information on water, we have interviewed 10% of the household from each selected village. Accordingly the total sample size amounted to 235 households in 8 villages of 4 Gram Panchayats in Dharwad district. The paper reveals that the provision of safe drinking water still remains an unachieved goal and in rural areas with severe adverse effects on the health of the rural households. Study found that rural people are not much concerned about poor quality of water supply in compare to people in urban areas and further considering the fact that the ground water is not fit for drinking purposes in 4500 villages on account of high fluoride or iron content and brackishness. However, even after a decade of declaration of the State Water Policy, 2002 about 65% of the habitations (Annual Report (2014–15), RDPR, Government of Karnataka) in rural Karnataka do not get a minimum of 55 lpcd as envisaged in the policy. SDGs present us with goals but not the strategies required for acheiveing them. Hence, there is a need for continued intervention of Government in implementation of various programmes and fix strategies and plan for achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. More number of RO plants can be better options in fluoride affected villages, which do not have access to surface water or safe drinking water. Thus, NGOs and GPs can play a significant role in providing knowledge to rural people and change their attitude towards the same.
Sustainable Development Goals, Rural Water Supply, Water Quality, Gram Panchayats, Safe Drinking Water Supply.