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Words. Rhythms. Images.

Dehradun, the capital city of Uttarakhand, is confronted with several water-related challenges, especially in low-income group communities where access to resources is limited. Although the current water supply adequately meets the demands, the water distribution system lacks robustness, placing additional burden on individuals and communities living in these marginalized areas. These issues significantly impact the families by influencing their hygiene, sanitation practices, livelihoods, and development. 

Words. Rhythms. Images (WRI) is a communications agency that utilizes creative media to address social issues. As part of a grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, WRI trained low income group communities in Dehradun to utilize video-based storytelling as a means to develop local solutions and enhance their understanding of water stress.

Kathbangla and Nagal basti, two informal settlements in Dehradun, face specific challenges related to the river Rispna’s conditions. During the summer months, when the river dries up, a significant amount of garbage accumulates, resulting in unsanitary living conditions for the residents. In contrast, during the monsoon season, excessive rains often lead to flooding, forcing people to evacuate their homes. The rising water levels inundate the houses of families living in close proximity to the river, causing displacement and damage to their homes. 

Twenty-five families live on the hill slope of Sapera Basti in Dehradun. Only a few families have access to personal taps; the remaining families depend on a single community tap to meet their needs. This often leads to conflicts within the community.

During the monsoon season, garbage from the slopes tends to accumulate in front of the houses of a few families. Heavy rainfall causes the waste to wash down from higher areas and gather in front of their homes, creating unsanitary and unpleasant conditions. 

Thirty-five year-old Rani from Sapera Basti purchases water for Rs 200 per month. She uses the water for drinking, bathing and washing utensils. However, the water is not enough for washing clothes and Rani has to go to another source. This takes up a lot of her time and energy.


A mother of four, Rani is also a domestic worker. Her husband does not keep well and works as a day labour.

It is common for young children and adolescent girls to be assigned the task of fetching water from the source and carrying heavy buckets back to their homes. They have to navigate uneven terrain that can be challenging. This responsibility places an additional burden on these children, impacting their well-being, education, and overall development.

Community members were invited by WRI to hands-on, interactive workshops where they gained skills to identify issues, research and write scripts, produce films, and disseminate them. The workshops were designed to be accessible in low-resource settings, allowing participation with smartphones and shared laptops, empowering a wide range of community members to create impactful videos.

Ten short videos were selected and screened during an event to government officials from the Water Department and Disaster Management Department, NGOs, social activists, and media personnel.  

The videos produced and disseminated as part of the project have initiated a survey on water distribution in low-income neighborhood. The project also provided an opportunity for women to engage in activities outside of domestic chores, fostering a sense of pride and confidence in their contribution to a larger social issue.

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