We are back home from our trip to India and able to post news of our visit there. Unlike Bangladesh, in India we don’t have internet access in the rural town south of Kolkata where we stay while visiting our projects.

The first day of our visit with our local partner, APS, we were shown a 40-minute video of their recovery work during cyclone Aila, which hit India and Bangladesh in May 2009. The same area was struck in 2007 by Cyclone Sidr.

With the support of Water 1st, APS has had an active water and sanitation program since 2006.  After the cyclone hit, local government turned to them to assist in the relief effort.  In just 5 weeks, APS was able to travel to 292 villages to rehabilitate their government-installed drinking water wells.  (None of the Water 1st-funded wells were affected by the cyclone.)  Although Water 1st is not directly involved in disaster relief efforts, because we are providing consistent support of APS and our other local partners, they are in a position to help when disaster strikes.

[Top photo: Using an air compressor to pump mud and saline water out of the cyclone-flooded well.]

Our local partner shot a 40-minute video of their relief work, and we’ve taken some grainy screen shots of this film so you can see some of the work they did in one village in the Sundarbans of West Bengal. These images show one of the APS technicians, Debasish, and others from APS pump air into the wells to push out the saline and muddy waters.

Adding chlorine to disinfect the well before it’s used for drinking water.

After that, they re-install the pump and shock-chlorinate the well for two to four hours before residents can collect water. The women wait patiently for hours while this work is completed in order to fill their kulshies with safe water.

Two days later, APS returned to collect water samples that they took back to their new water quality lab (began in 2009) for bacteriological testing.

Replacing the cylcone-damaged hand-pump.

These drinking water wells are still the only source of fresh water for livestock. The ponds that normally supply water to the cattle remain contaminted with salty, undrinkable sea water after the mud dikes failed during the cyclone and flooded the villages.

The long wait for fresh, safe water is nearly over for this woman and her family.