PHS believes in collaboration and partnership with the community to further its objectives. PHS imparts leadership training and capacity building to sustain the movement to secure the universal right to water. Community representatives are given basic training in perspective building, leadership development, digital literacy and governance. These have helped communities understand the functioning of the water department in MCGM to be able to deal with it in an effective manner. Collaborations have also been undertaken with academic institutions like the TISS School of Media and Cultural Studies to equip the youth to communicate their stories through digital media.
We have conducted 6 training workshops with approximately 70 youth and community leaders of the informal communities that we work within to build capacities towards interacting with bureaucrats, deciphering the technicalities of water supply provision and distribution and about the rights of the people to water in the city of Mumbai. One significant achievement for PHS has been that one of our volunteers has become a licensed plumber (the signature of a licensed plumber is a prerequisite to filing an application for water connections in slums). Find attached in the appendix a copy of this license. The addition of this licensed plumber has served to disrupt the economic status quo in the realm of water service providers in more than one ways. We have found that there are a lot of forces within the realm of water service and provision that will work towards maintaining the opaque and difficult nature of the bureaucracy and water service provision and do not wish to make this process any simpler. Going against this lobby of licensed plumbers within the MCGM, the ‘People’s Plumber’ has made access to bureaucratic water service provision simpler for the common people. This has been achieved through an initiative of the PHS.
We have also engaged community members themselves to work along with the licensed plumber to carry out follow-up activities for ensuring water connections to communities. We believe that in addition to the training sessions and workshops we conduct with support of funding from the Global Greengrants, this engagement has further enhanced distribution of knowledge about water access and policy in general to people within informal communities of Mumbai. So far we have been able to get 298 applications (each application reaching a group of 5 households), taking the total tally of households given access to water to approximately 1500 through the newly introduced water for all policy of the MCGM. This has been made possible through the undeterred and courageous work of all members of the PHS with support and facilitation of the PHS conveners. These applications have come from 23 informal settlements spanning across seven administrative wards of Mumbai (E, M/E, H/W, K/W, P/S, P/N, R/C). This indicates our commitment to continue to spread across the city and reach the neediest locations so that we can help them gain access to water from the state authorities.
With the help of faculty and students from the School of Media and Cultural Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, we organised four community media workshops with youth of the informal communities that we work with. The basics of filmmaking was taught to young girls and boys in 4 locations of Mandala, Transit camp and Bhim Nagar in an interactive manner. The links for the videos can be found here and here.