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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 22:56 GMT 23:56 UK
Children's parliament boosts India health
Children at school in India
Few children in the state go to school
An annual children's parliament in north-western India is helping children there to boost health across the region.

Hundreds of children from Rajasthan attend the annual session of parliament each year.

The 'MPs' are representatives from each of the night schools across the state run by the charity Barefoot College.

It runs about 150 schools, educating some 3,000 students.

Rajasthan is one of the poorest regions in India. Forty-five million people live there and the area is particularly prone to drought.

Sharing ideas

But the children's parliament has helped to come up with solutions to this problem.

One child recently collected thousands of rupees from those living in his village to pay for a new water unit.

Ideas like that are shared by children at the parliament to enable them to also make a difference at home.

Thirteen-year-old Sunita, the parliament's minister for agriculture, said: "Some children asked some questions about water problems. We said we would try to build water things for them."

A local doctor added: "I have seen children in villages sit together and decide what services there should be. Top of their list is usually safe water."

A spokesman for Barefoot College added: "Children have been able to collect money for a new water supply in one village.

"Politicians and community people have never been able to solve the problem. But one 11-year-old boy did."

He said the parliament helped children to overcome problems that had dogged adults for years.

This story is featured in the radio programme Health Matters on the BBC World Service.

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See also:

01 Dec 01 | South Asia
20 Jan 98 | S/W Asia
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