The Kerala backwaters are a microcosm of life in India. I have already posted about the fishing we saw on our tour so today I want to focus on the water itself.
These two young lads welcome you to the backwaters. How many people would enjoy a swim in these warm waters? But swimming is not the only activity which takes place.
When you have no running water you use the nearest source to wash your hair or have a bath.
You also need somewhere to wash your clothes…
…and your pots and pans.
The big problem is the quality of water, a problem throughout India.
Over 772 million people don’t have access to adequate sanitation in India, that’s two thirds of the population – so you can guarantee that the backwaters are used as a toilet by a number of local residents.
93 million people in India don’t have access to safe water – so you can also guarantee that some people will be getting their drinking water either from the backwaters itself or local wells which are not safe.
Over 186,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in India. (Statistics from Water Aid UK )
Even if people do not drink the water from the Backwaters the fact that they bathe in it, swim in it and eat from pots washed in it means that they are always open to infection.
The Backwaters of Kerala are a beautiful place and I recommend that if you ever get the chance you should visit and enjoy. Hopefully the income from tourism will help such rural areas to improve the supplies of clean water for the local residents.