The people of Laporiya of Dudu block, Jaipur, Rajasthan have
dyked degraded pastures to harvest rain. In the 1970's the pastures
of Laporiya were barren and degraded. In 1990, the Gram Vikas
Navuyak Mandal Laporiya (GVNML), a civil society group of Laporiya
mobilised the vilage community to undertake the revival of its
A gram sabha (village assembly) consisting of 11 village
elders were formed. Four years later, work was initiated on
50 hectares (ha) of pastures to integrate the denuded land
into a single project unit. To complete the project, the villagers
contributed labour as shramdaan (voluntary labour)
and the result was a system of chaukas.
Chaukas are rectangular plots in a dyked pasture and
store rainwater. They are 66 metres (m) long and 132 m wide
enclosures arranged in a zigzag pattern and lie along small
gradient. Dykes, 1.5 m high are built along the three sides
that lie towards the lower part of the land/gradient. Trees
are planted on these dykes to give them additional support
to withstand rain.
When it rains, water collects in the dyked lower half of
the chauka. As the amount of water stored in the enclosure
rises, it flows into the neighbouring chauka, and so
on, gradually seeping over the entire pasture. This means
that fields are never inundated with water. Grasses can grow.
After reaching the last chauka, the water flows into a monsoon
drain. This system not only provides adequate water for villagers,
but also promotes the recharge of groundwater.
The key to the success of the project is its adaptability.
The dykes have been built keeping in mind the pathways that
he people use. There was no restriction on grazing in the
chaukas earlier as the emphasis was on impounding water
and improving the soil. Now the people of the village plan
to restrict grazing to alternate chaukas.
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