202093 Water, women and health in the Thar Desert, India

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:48 PM

Prakash Tyagi, MD , Head Office, GRAVIS, Jodhpur, India
Located in north-west India, Thar Desert is one of the most arid regions of world. With population of 23 million people, it is the most densely populated arid regions of world. The average annual rainfall is 100-200 mm. Recurrent failures of rainfall cause droughts and create extreme water scarcity. Socially, the biggest impact of water scarcity could be seen on the female population. Procuring water is considered to be a household task, and the women and the girl child are involved in procuring water. They need to walk miles everyday in the hot and harsh climate. This contributes to wide range of health problems among women particularly affecting reproductive health and disables girls to attend schools.

GRAVIS, an NGO, has been focusing in the areas of drought mitigation and improving the living conditions of women in the region. Over last 25 years, it has done commendable work in over 850 villages to create water-harvesting structures at household level. Over 600,000 women have been benefited and have been freed from water-fetching-drudgery. Further, health services are being regularly provided to over half million women of the region through 521 health workers and fully equipped hospital. Health education is being imparted among women through health education sessions. As a result, the maternal mortality rate has gone down by 25% and overall health of women has improved. There is clear link between water and health of women in the Thar Desert and by addressing the two issues together a significant change can be made.

Learning Objectives:
To share GRAVIS'work on water security and its focus on improving women's health and network the knowledge-base for future actions.

Keywords: Women's Health, Water

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am directly involved with the program as the Director of the implementing organization.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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