By Estelle Van Hoeydonck, Field Experience Program Advisor
Have you ever heard of a leopard preventing someone from drinking water? To be honest, I didn’t know leopards lived in India - that’s why I work for World Vision and not a wildlife organisation!
Because you sponsor a child in India
I am sharing the story of a community I recently visited in World Vision’s Pauri project, located in the far north of India in the Himalayan foothills. It’s a serene place to live, with exquisite sunrises over enormous mountains and rich wildlife including monkeys…and leopards!
Only a few hundred kilometres away pristine glacial water flows from the Himalayas into the Ganges river, but in this community the people told us about their severe lack of water. Before World Vision helped out four years ago, people from Pauri had to walk for hours to access a pipe from much further up in the mountains that ran past many other communities who also accessed the water. Most days the water ran out. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to walk over rocky mountains for hours each day only to find the pipe is dry! At night desperate families would trek through the dark hoping that there could be water available then, but it became common for leopards to attack them.
Leopards are a dangerous barrier to clean drinking water that you might not have considered before, but have you ever wondered what a lack of water might do to the dynamics in a community? The community told me about the severe competition for water between families and the conflict it created. If one family was lucky enough to go to the tap when it was running and for the first time in days give their livestock some water and wash themselves, while another family was unable to get enough water to quench their thirst, you can imagine the struggles they faced when everyone had multiple legitimate needs for water, but there was never enough for everyone.