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India’s thirst for water

By Sarah, 28 February 2014 News

Written by Neha Karl

Dr Anu Kumar giving a child an Australian souvenir.

Dr Anu Kumar distributed Australian souvenirs to the children following the visit to the Ganga Aquarium.
Image: CSIRO

97 million people in India do not have easy access to clean and safe water – that is more than four times the population of Australia.

Many water sources in India are heavily contaminated or impure. A number of diseases can be carried in the water, making it very unsafe to drink. Untreated sewage is one of the main sources of water pollution in India.

Sewage seeps into rivers as there are not enough treatment facilities available. The build up of impurities in waterways can affect fish and food crops such as rice. People can become very sick from drinking water and eating food from polluted rivers.

Having a safe water supply and understanding water sustainability is everyone’s business in a country where only 31% of rural households have access to tap water. But many children in India don’t get the chance to learn as they must help their parents earn money.

CSIRO’s Dr Anu Kumar travelled to India with a team of researchers to help scientists develop ways to control the effect of contaminants, including sewage and industrial chemicals, on the environment.

As an extension of the project, she organised a field trip for a group of rural children to the Ganga Aquarium in Lucknow. The children learnt about fish diversity and the effects of water pollution on fish and the environment. They also learnt about keeping clean and investigated ways to conserve water. Students were encouraged to share their experiences with their families when they went home.

Projects like this help people to help themselves build a healthier life. Anu believes that “education and awareness is the key to improving conditions in India”.

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