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Shedding Light on Water Stress Issues Through Digital Storytelling

Words. Rhythms. Images

Though the hill town of Dehradun in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand has adequate amounts of water, low-income communities often face issues of water stress. This ranges from a lack of piped water to water logging during monsoon. 


Having grown up in this area, Shivani has been keen on raising awareness within her community about the problems that their slum faces. She also wanted government officials to take the issue of piped water seriously and find a solution to it. 


In 2022, she participated in a project titled Digital Storytellers for Social Change (DiSSC) which was implemented by the communications agency, words. rhythms. images.  The DiSSC model is a participatory video-based storytelling method that focuses on capturing things that occur near you with the objective of finding a collective solution to the issue. After getting hands-on training on how she can use her mobile phone to capture powerful and personal stories about how the lack of access to clean water impacts her and her community members, Shivani was ready to become an independent storyteller. 


Armed with this new information, Shivani and some others made a series of videos capturing issues around water stress in the area. The videos covered stories about health issues stemming from consuming unclean water, girl children’s education being interrupted because of the responsibility to collect water, and the how lack of piped water makes day-to-day chores more difficult. WRI organised a screening event where the videos were shown to government officials following which they conducted a survey of the affected slums in order to begin laying pipelines there. 


Through this experience, Shivani saw first-hand the power of digital storytelling. As a result, she has continued to make other videos about issues she sees around her. She has made a video about the poor state of roads outside the slum and a video on waste management. She is planning on sending these videos to her local government representatives and hopes to begin a conversation with them about possible solutions to these issues.

“ We have always faced a lack of running water in our house and the area that we live in. When we began making short videos about how difficult life without running water is, we got some attention from the Water Department for the first time ” says Shivani Kumari, a resident of Nagal Basti in Dehradun

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