After 40 long years, community champions secure safe drinking water for Nayak Basti in Jaipur

An overhead picture of a laneway, part of an informal settlement called Nayak Basti in India

A pocket of Nayak Basti, an informal urban slum in Jaipur. (CFAR archives)


This Water, WASH & Climate story was authored by Ravie Kiran Bokam and Juhi Jain, Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR)


Nayak Basti is an informal urban settlement situated on hilly terrain in Jaipur, Rajasthan with 850 households, many with elderly, persons with disabilities, and women and girls from minority communities. This is the story of how community representatives came together to champion and successfully advocate for safely managed WASH services for their settlement.


A community at risk for too long


Like many other settlements, in Nayak Basti informal workers struggle to earn a living as daily wage workers, domestic workers, petty vendors and rickshaw pullers, to name a few.


A changing climate and erratic climatic conditions meant extremely low water pressure and irregular water supply, and particularly during summer, which has increasingly brought protracted dry spells and heatwaves across Rajasthan. starting as early as March and extending beyond June – one month earlier and longer than usual


Many households depended on a ground water supply contaminated with heavy metals like fluoride and nitrate. Open discharge of faecal sludge added to water contamination and health concerns. Up to 100 households had no access to potable water for over 40 years. To make matters worse, residents had no connection with the Municipal Corporation and Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED). Everyone, including elderly, persons with disabilities and young girls, had to collect water from neighbouring settlements, which was physically and mentally stressful. The flow on effect of these challenges also impacted work, education and wellbeing.


“On the one hand residents suffer from irregular and shortages of water supply, on the other hand dilapidated sewer lines contaminate the water with the situation worsening during monsoon, when the drains overflow,” shared Hari Singh, an elderly male resident of Nayak Basti.

A community member struggles to collect water using a bucket and having t walk a long way

Community members of Nayak Basti, including elderly, persons with disabilities, women and young girls, previously had to fetch water from nearby settlements. (CFAR Archives)

Mobilising for change


In December 2019, the community of informal workers and slum dwellers decided to take matters in their own hands. Munni Apa, Phool Singh and Hari Singh formed the Community Management Committee (CMC) and Single Window Forum (SWF) in Nayak Basti, supported by CFAR as part of their Water for Women project, to collectively address the WASH issues. .     


Together, the CMC decided to stake their claim for safe water. This included adequate water supply, prevention of groundwater contamination, proper operation and maintenance of sewer lines and renovation of drains.


By January 2021, after the first wave of COVID-19, the CMC succeeded in drawing the attention of the WASH system authorities. This was a result of their tireless efforts, including frequent advocacy with stakeholders, organising public meetings and petitioning for timely resolution of issues. In June 2021, the CMC and SWF organised a multi-stakeholder consultation followed by intensive social mobilisation and planning to make every person and household in the slum part of the process of change.


“We worked as a collective, equipped ourselves with technical information, collected evidence and experiences from every lane and advocated on every possible occasion and platform”, recounts Hari Singh.


“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much”


In October 2021, the PHED released the necessary budget and immediately laid the Bisalpur water pipeline, a surface drinking water supply line. The Jaipur Heritage Municipal Corporation prioritised the renovation of the drains and installed new sewer lines and chambers, putting an end to four decades of WASH deprivation in Nayak Basti.

A woman in a sari fills her water tub thanks to a newly installed pipeline in her community

A Nayak Basti resident accesses safe water after construction of the pipeline (CFAR archives)


“We want to ensure that our children and future generations live in a healthy environment. We are grateful to duty-bearers from JMC, PHED and the community who worked together to bring about the improvements,” said Phool Singh, an elderly SWF member.

A pipe is being laid in an informal settlement in India


60-year-old Munni Apa, an elderly Single Window Forum member recounts: “It is humiliating to fetch water from my neighbours everyday as they would turn me away or ask me to wait for long hours. This is not a one-off incident but a plight that most households here experience. So, we decided to fight for our rights.”




Laying  the new sewer line during constriction in Nayak Basti (CFAR archives)


“Despite working for years on this issue, we felt that our efforts were weak. We had almost given up but in the last two years, post-COVID, water and sanitation became a public issue for all and with support of CFAR we explored new ways of working with the WASH system, which included participating in ward meetings, organising consultations, and doing joint planning and review. All this helped to improve water and sanitation service,” sajd Nazia, CMC member.


“Our work is not over yet. We have secured water and sewerage connections and are now tracking and monitoring the supply of water and its quality using simple tools, educating residents to conserve water and be prepared for bigger challenges,” said Mehrunnisa, CMC member.


In the case of the Nayak Basti community, the words stated by Hellen Keller have been proven in more ways than one: “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much”. 

Watch CFAR’s short video about community champions leading the fight for safe drinking water and WASH services in Nayak Basti 




This story was first shared as part of the This is Water, WASH & Climate: Stories from Practice, on 22 June 2022 during the Water, WASH & Climate Virtual Symposium. It has since been edited with permission.

An inclusive community is a climate resilient community. In an uncertain and rapidly changing world, there is no greater priority than ensuring that water and WASH systems are future-proofed for climate resilience, social cohesion, accountability and wellbeing. Embedding the voice of women and marginalised people in water and WASH systems is one of the most effective pathways to strengthen equity and inclusion, so that the ‘invisible’ becomes visible, and valued. Valuing diversity, and diverse perspectives, strengthens prospects for a more climate resilient and socially cohesive future.


This story was first shared as part of the  This is Water, WASH & Climate: Stories from Practice on 22 June 2022 during the Water, WASH & Climate Virtual Symposium. It has since been edited with permission. For more information about the session and Water & WASH Futures events visit Key Water and WASH Futures partners are the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the International WaterCentre, Water for Women, the Asian Development Bank and the Australian Water Partnership.


To learn more and continue the discussion on how to achieve SDG 6 in a changing climate, join us in Brisbane at the Water and WASH Futures Conference 13-17 February 2023.


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