Understanding the barriers of clean water access in urban slums of Kolkata, India

  • Holly Anne Beistline Liberty University
Keywords: WASH, Clean water, Urban slums, Kolkata


Introduction: Safe drinking water is scarce in Kolkata. Inadequate knowledge and poor practices of storing and cleaning drinking water can cause severe effects on the health of the population. There is a need to understand the current trend of attitudes and practices of individuals living in urban slums to reduce water borne diseases and mortality.

Methods: This pilot cross sectional study was conducted in Kolkata, India during June and July 2014. Five urban slums were selected conveniently based on proximity and cooperation from the community. A sample of 50 women was taken which represented 5 different sums, with a sample of 10 women taken from each slum.

Results: The majority (80%) of the participants said they regularly have enough water available to meet the needs of their household. Fifty-two percent of subjects received their water for drinking from a tap, hand pump, or time pump. Thirty percent had water pumped into their homes, and 18% purchased their water from a water truck. Fourteen percent said they did not treat their water because it was too time consuming, 40% said it was too much work, and 34% said it was not needed. Ninety percent said they felt it was important to clean their water, almost half (48%) thought their water was not clean, but only 42% used some method to clean their water. Many subjects (68%) stated they knew how to clean their water, but 66% were unaware that visible dirt is not an indicator of illness-causing bacteria in water.

Conclusions: More focus should be directed towards improving the awareness, knowledge, and attitudes of perceived susceptibility of clean water within slum communities in Kolkata, India.

Author Biography

Holly Anne Beistline, Liberty University
Holly Beistline is currently a Community Health Specialist for Injury Prevention at the City of York--Bureau of Health, located in York, Pennsylvania. She received her undergraduate degree in Athletic Training at Messiah College, and her Master's of Public Health with a Global Concentration at Liberty University. She is interested in social justice, poverty alleviation, maternal and child health, and water and sanitation and she is actively seeking opportunities in Global Health.


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How to Cite
Beistline, H. A. (2016). Understanding the barriers of clean water access in urban slums of Kolkata, India. Christian Journal for Global Health, 3(1), 46-56. https://doi.org/10.15566/cjgh.v3i1.32