By Paritosh Chakma
Access to safe drinking water is an acute problem throughout the hilly tribal state of Mizoram in the North East India.
The Chakma women carve tiny shallow “ponds” in stony surface at specific locations near tiny rivulet (see the pictures). Although clean water is believed to sieve from the bottom of the rocks or from the tiny rivulets, it is certainly not germs free. Fungi (and what not) grow around the pond surface.
The problem is majority villagers do not have water filter to purify the water. They are too poor to buy one. They also do not have a habit to boil the water before drinking. As a result, water-borne diseases are common in the remote areas.
During rainy season, it is difficult to get drinking water as it is impossible to collect drinking water from these “ponds” or the rivers. People usually harvest rain water in rainy days.
(All the photos used here are taken by the author during a visit to a remote Chakma inhabited village in Mizoram, near the India-Bangladesh border in January 2010)