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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH)

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH)
Water is the most precious life-sustaining resource on planet earth. Adequate supply of quality water is the key to a green environment, human health, food safety, economic opportunities, sustainable development and thereby to the prosperity of the nation. Although,water needs of the ever-growing human population is rocketing, unwise human activities disrupting the dynamics of nature are polluting and depleting water resources swiftly. Results - scarcity of quality drinking water, inadequate sanitation and improper hygiene measures that reflect as ill health, poverty, loss of dignity and death of plants, animals and humans.

Although the United Nations recognizes access to water and sanitation as a fundamental right, a large section of the Indian population, mainly from rural and marginalized areas, is unable to avail safe water in sufficient quantity. Global warming and climate change are expected to heighten the existing inequality in the water sector and consequential scarcity of quality drinking water, inadequate sanitation and improper hygiene measures could nurture ill health, poverty and a 'war for water' in the coming years.

Implementation of proper management strategies and application of appropriate technologies could reduce the glitches and inequality present in the sector of water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) in our nation to a certain extent. However, in a geographically large and environmentally diverse country like India, finding sufficient economic and human resources to collect grass root level information about WaSH over seasons, finding location specific solutions for mitigating water scarcity and ensuring water quality and involving local people in programmes aiming water conservation and popularization of proper sanitation and hygiene practices are not trivial tasks.

The Student Network
Students are the best 'bridge' between the academic community (the generators and custodians of the knowledge) and the general public, the beneficiaries of that information. If trained properly to monitor, analyze and report the fluctuations in water availability, water quality, sanitation and hygiene practices students could work as agents of positive change in this sector. If students of schools and colleges could collect data of WaSH from their neighborhoodsunder the guidance of professional scientists, an elucidated picture of the availability, distribution and usage of water resources in their locality could be generated without spending much resource. Such a database is essential for designing and implementing successful micro level strategies for ensuring water availability and avoiding water conflict.

A student-scientist partnership can function as a platform to understand various dimensions of the issues prevalent in the sector of WaSH and to come up with sustainable solutions. Being part of such an association students get exposure to methodologies of research - a powerful inducer of scientific temper - in a very young age itself and their familiarity with other members of the society could be used for raising awareness of WaSH in their locality. Meanwhile interaction with students coming from the different socio-economical background can direct the attention of scientists towards WaSH issues predominant at different strata of the society.

The 'student network' is an attempt to bridge the existing gap between general public and scientists through students and to develop educational institutions into the centers for first-hand information of local natural resources and WaSH. Additionally student network could work as a permanent low-cost system for monitoring social and environmental changes, an excellent tool for science communication and an agency for bringing awareness about WaSH and cultivating pro-environment behaviour amongst the general public.

Activities
Nodes of 'student network' will be formed in schools and colleges by including selected students and their teachers interested in WaSH. School units will be linked to near by college nodes and the academic interaction between students and teachers of these two critical components of the education system will be promoted under the direction of the project team.

The 'Student Scientists' (student members of the network) will be given intense training in the state of the art methodologies used for data collection, analysis and communication of scientific, social and cultural dimensions of water, sanitation and hygiene practices under the supervision of professional scientists. They will also be trained to develop and distribute Information, Communication and Education (ICE) materials, conduct awareness programmes, build a database of WaSH and other natural resources available in their habitat and report WaSH issues of their locality to scientists and seek solutions using modern and conventional methods of communication.

The members of the college units will be given special training to guide the activities of school units as well as to interact with scientist and research scholars from research institutes or universities. This joint knowledge production and informal interaction between schools, colleges and research institutions could open new resources of knowledge and opportunities for higher education and training for students and teachers particularly from rural and marginalized areas.

 

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