INDIA: Don Bosco Center’s Water Academy Provides Skilled Labor for Water Projects
(MissionNewswire) With more than 1.2 billion people, India’s growing population is putting a severe strain on the country’s natural resources. According to Water.org, close to 104 million people do not have access to safe, clean water and 808 million have no sanitation services. Most water sources throughout the country are contaminated by sewage and agricultural runoff.
While India has made some progress in the supply of safe water, there remain gross disparities in safe water access across the country. The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water with diarrhea alone causing more than 1,600 deaths daily. Access to proper sanitation is extremely poor, particularly in rural areas where only 14 percent of the population have access to a latrine. In addition, hand washing is not commonplace and leads to an increase in the spread of disease.
Salesian missionaries across India are dedicated to ensuring that access to safe water is a priority in Salesian-run programs and schools and in the communities in which they operate.
To address both the need for clean, safe water and technical skills training for India’s poor youth, Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Center for Learning in Kurla, Mumbai, started the Jal (Water) Academy. The academy offers courses in well construction, irrigation, plumbing and hygienic sanitation systems to develop methods for the utilization and analysis of existing systems for the efficient transportation of water.
Started in 2009, the academy was set up and supported by Grohe, a leading German water systems company. Students are trained in a fully-equipped workshop with all of the necessary equipment for training technicians. Since its inception, the academy has trained more than 800 students, some of whom are already working in the water and sanitation industry but returned to school to upgrade their skills and certification. Upon graduation, students receive joint certification through the government center for vocational training and the academy’s corporate partners. The academy also helps its students with job placement.
Recently, a research component was added to the academy’s program with students from the local Salesian engineering college assisting with projects in water management and environmental sustainability. In February 2015, the academy will host an International Conference on Technologies for Sustainable Development bringing together researchers, sustainability sector industry experts and other water, sanitation and energy professionals. In addition, the academy is in the planning stages of development of an integrated research center on campus that will focus on environmental issues.
“Many in India’s communities, most often women and children, are forced to walk for hours to collect drinking water—water that often proves contaminated and seriously sickens those who consume it,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The academy is working to meet a serious demand for clean, safe water while also providing skilled labor to ensure that water and sanitation access becomes more readily available and projects remain sustainable.”
Salesian missionaries working in Mumbai are also assisting rural communities in Maharashtra and Gujarat where water is often scarce for household consumption as well as for agriculture. Several projects have been established including village watershed development, construction of community irrigation systems and the digging of community ponds and wells. These projects aim to make water available within the community while also building community interest and ownership over the water sources to ensure sustainability of the projects.
“Water is vital for life,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Salesian Missions has made building wells and other projects that supply fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.”
Photo courtesy GROHE
Salesian Missions – India
Water.org – India