With the late arrival of the monsoons, Water 1st’s June visit to our projects in the Sundarbans of West Bengal, India went more smoothly than we expected. In between brief, intense cloud bursts, we were able to check up on the 2009 projects and see two of the more distant project sites in Uttarkashiabad, all of which were operating smoothly.

Why are these older projects operating smoothly?  Because the water committees which received training from our in-country partner are performing proactive greasing of the pump chain and bolts and collecting monthy user fees to pay for maintenace or replacement parts.  Click here to see the water committee at the 2006 Gangadarpur, India pump perform routine maintenance.

[Top photo: Here’s a photo from our June 2010 visit to the Uttarkasiabad pump, installed in 2006. It is still working great, thanks to the water committee’s diligent and consistent efforts to collect monthly user fees and perform routine maintenance.]

On the third day, we visited with the committees representing the groups who will be receiving wells and toilets in 2010.  Giripara and Halderpara are the names of the 2010 communities. Both groups were very animated and talkative as we asked them questions about how they would manage the pump and select the first round of 20 toilet recipients.  Community members are equally excited about the wells and the toilets.

The water committee for the new Halderpara, India project.  This committee is responsible for collecting funds from water users and maintaining the community's new water pump.
The water committee for the new Halderpara, India project. This committee is responsible for collecting funds from water users and maintaining the community’s new water pump.

We were pleased to see that they were working through important issues, such as how much each family would pay each month to use the well and who would be allowed to collect water from the wells. The Giripara group decided that they would charge 10 Rupees (about 25 cents) per month to use the well and only the 20 families who were making a monthly payment could use the well.

The Halderpara group had 50 families signed up to make monthly payments of 5 Rupees and they decided that they would allow others to use the well if their water source was not operating. They felt that gave them the ability to obtain water elsewhere if their system was ever out of service. The fact that they are working through these questions beforehand is a good indicator that our partner organization is providing the training they need to keep their water source functioning.

The rain became more intense and frequent each day. We returned to Kolkata on the final day, dragging with us a dark wall of cloud and rainfall. The monsoon season has arrived, and field visit season is definitely over. We look forward to our return in December.