Story by Courtney Thomas
Nearly half of India has no access to portable water. The country faces various challenges because of water shortages, climate change and pollution. The solution: educating children on the importance of water conservation. It is vital for the survival of generations to come.
Naman Kumar, a year 12 student from Delhi Public School Bangalore, is taking action for water conservation. He’s created a handmade water flow aerator with a plastic bottle cap for the taps in his school.
Naman said he wanted to create a DIY aerator because most people cannot afford to purchase one on their own.
“The reason I chose bottle caps is because they are something you can find anywhere,” he said.
“At the end of your tap there is something called an aerator and it is put on the end of every tap. It adds air going out and reduces the flow rate, so it uses less water.
“It helps reduce the flow rate of your tap by about 33 per cent to 35 per cent.”
He said he wanted to make something that would conserve water because the water issues in India, such as availability and quality, are substantial. The DIY aerator also assists in cleaning water as it flows from the tap.
“I put a little bit of cotton in [the aerator] so in places where there is a lot of dirt. The cotton can absorb the water that comes out, and while it’s not exactly fit to drink, it is a lot cleaner,” said Naman.
Naman’s father Vinay Kumar said he was proud to see his son passionate about water conservation.
“He just told me a list of items that I needed to get, and I got it for him. He did the rest,” he said.
REAP Benefit is a Non-Government organisation in Bangalore that aims to educate the youth of today on civic engagement. They encourage young people to participate in solving everyday problems by using interactive platforms and speaking to local schools.
REAP Benefit President of Operations and Business Shashi Shekhar says the organisation aims to develop “civic muscle” in every young person.
“There are people who want to solve problems, but they don’t know how to,” he explained.
“In the past seven years, we have saved about 44 million litres of water with young people engaging in local issues.
“When you are young your curiosity is very high, you are ready to try everything.
“It’s a common saying, ‘Involve a child into something, then what they learn is much better than what they would have learnt from listening alone’.
“We have seen a 15 per cent increase in children repeating solving issues once they have solved one.”
In 2019 the population of India was 1,366,417,754 and the median age was 27.1. In the same year, the urban population was 471,828,295. Alarmingly from an education survey conducted in 2002, less than half the children living in India between the ages of 6-14 and 50 per cent of children aged 6-18 attended school.
Science teacher Padaraj Umakauta Nayak says STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education on local water issues should be introduced in the school curriculum to create a sustainable water future.
“Students are wanting to know about their local water issues,” he said.
“More interest generates more involvement which creates more achievement in children.
“If a subject like ‘local issues and its solutions’ entered the present curriculum… it would be very helpful for students (because they could) learn about problems in their area. They (could) then go and attempt to solve them. That, in future, will be helpful in solving some of the water issues we face.
“At school level the government has no curriculum for water related issues.”
Naman believes government school children are more aware of water-related issues than private school students because they are faced with them every day.
“A lot of government school children come from low-end families, so they face those problems a lot more than private school children do,” he said.
“Government schools have a whole lot of water problems. Students are forced to do innovations in order to get their way.”
Naman says if young people have an innovative idea for conserving water in their area, they should “go for it”.
“There is a tonne of (water) problems now. If you think that there is a problem worth solving, then try as hard as you can, and you will be able to do it in the end.”
Young people, like Naman, have the power to create change.
But the key is educating them on local environmental issues, so they start by solving small problems and feel emboldened to make bigger changes.
If we’ve learned anything from 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg, sometimes it’s the younger generation who are best placed to tackle the issues the older generation can or won’t try to solve.
Courtney Thomas is a second-year journalism student at Griffith University based on the Gold Coast. She works in the research department for the media company: Southern Cross Austereo. She has done experience days at Channel Nine and Hit90.9 on the Gold Coast and she participated in the 2017 Regional Southern Cross Austereo Media Bootcamp. She also works as an assistant programmer for the community radio station Juice 107.3 and has done so for the last two and a half years. She is passionate about using journalism to connect with people and hear their unique stories.