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Lower-Caste Community Regains Water Supply During COVID Lockdown

    Thirst

    Uttar Pradesh

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Summary

In Uttar Pradesh's Chandrapura, 19 Musahar families faced a water crisis due to a broken handpump. If they went to neighboring areas to fetch water, they were chased away due to their lower caste. Shabnam Begum's video on their plight led to the pump's repair, bringing clean water to 250 people. This victory against caste discrimination and government apathy highlights the impact of community journalism in mobilizing action and ensuring access to basic needs during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Report illustration

The story of Chandrapura village in Uttar Pradesh's Bhadohi district epitomizes the daily struggle of marginalized communities in India. Faced with a non-operational handpump, their sole source of clean water, the Musahar community of 19 families endured hardship, including illness and skin infections, due to the use of contaminated water. The COVID-19 lockdown further aggravated their plight, cutting off access to essential resources for nearly six months. Through the courageous efforts of Shabnam Begum, a Community Correspondent for Video Volunteers, and the subsequent mobilization of local authorities and the community, the handpump was repaired, restoring clean water access to the community.

Assumptions:

  • The handpump would have been repaired even without Video Volunteers, their intervention only speeded up the repair by 6 months.
  • Clean water saved $20 per person per year

Refined Benefits Quantification:

1. Health Improvement:

  • Cost Savings: Assuming an average healthcare cost saving of $20 per person (avoided doctor visits, medication, prevention of waterborne diseases and skin infections etc.) due to improved water quality, the total health improvement benefit can be calculated as $20 * 250 individuals = $5,000.

2. Social Empowerment:

  • Quantitative Benefit: Empowering the community to advocate for their rights and access essential services can be challenging to quantify in direct monetary terms. However, considering the long-term benefit of such empowerment in enabling the community to secure further infrastructure improvements or services and the fact that it occurred during the lockdown, we place a conservative estimated value of $10 per individual  Thus, $10 * 250 individuals = $2,500.

3. Time Saved

  • We assume villagers had to spend 30 additional minutes each day due to their nearby handpump not working anymore. Taking the value of their time as $3 per day (minimum wage), this results in $0.1875 saved per day. Total benefit from time saved is $0.1875 * 250 * 365 = $17,109

Total Quantified Benefits:

  • Health Improvement: $5,000
  • Social Empowerment: $2,500
  • Time Saved: $17,109
  • Total: $24,609 per year

Counterfactual Analysis

Even without Video Volunteers intervention, the handpump would eventually have been repaired by the government. To accurately calculate the specific role played by Video Volunteers, we assume their story only accelerated its repair by 6 months.

Benefit with Counterfactual = 50% of 24,609 = $12,304.5

Cost of Story is $1100 , obtained by dividing the annual budget for video volunteers in 2021 ($486,484) with the total number of impact reports they produced in that year (439). 

Benefit Cost Ratio   is $12,304.5 divided by $1100 = 11.18

Conclusion:

Shabnam Begum's intervention in Chandrapura village represents a significant victory against systemic neglect and discrimination, ensuring clean water access to 250 individuals. The high benefit-to-cost ratio of 11.18 comes from the time saved, the message against discrimination and health savings. Overall, the story demonstrates the high value of community journalism in driving societal change and addressing critical infrastructure issues.

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