WOMEN and WATER
Stories from Dewas
With water, life returns to
The women from different villages in Dewas have learnt the art of solving their
water problems themselves. Swa Shakti, a governmental body, has been organising these
women into self-help groups (SHGs). These are primarily saving - credit groups. During the
SHGs meeting, the problem of water was discussed in many villages of Dewas and, under Swa
Shakti's community assets creation component, the works were initiated in the following
villages. These are not isolated stories, as such initiatives are now gaining momentum in
On October 26, a one-day brainstorming session was organised by the state's soil
conservation department in Meerut, to find a solution for the depleting water tables. CSE
was among one of the expert group invited to talk about the role of water
conservation to a gathering of about 50 district level officials from different
departments. The participants realised that if they are able to tap about 80 per cent of
rainwater, otherwise going waste, their problems will lessen, considerably.
Since 1987, a UK-based charity Wells for India, is working to provide drinking
water in Dudu block, Jaipur. These water supply schemes are operating in 83 villages with
active community support. Emphasis is given on developing water source with the help of
local knowledge. It is also working with 12 other NGOs in Rajasthan initiating a positive
In village Thalgheoria, Bagli block, the presence of just one hand pump had
compounded the problem of drinking water, and these women had to walk long distances. The
solution came into sight when the women, during one of their SHG's meetings decided to
take up the issue with technical assistance from a local NGO, Seva Ashram. After the
survey, an earthen check dam was proposed at a point where two seasonal drains meet.
Within a month the villagers completed a 10.6 meters (m) high and 0.5 km long structure.
In the first four days of rains this year, the dam filled up by ten feet. Now they are
working on strengthening the structure by constructing the spillway.
Village Agrakhurd in Bagli block is yet another success. With Seva Ashram's
guidance, a pond was constructed. About 100 m away and 3.06 m below, a 17m deep well was
dug to solve the drinking water problem in peak summer months. Influenced by the
people's enthusiasm, the district administration decided to pitch in by sanctioning a sum
of Rs 22,500 to complete the works. Next year, the SHG plans to develop the pond for
Banglore: October 7-8:
The venue and time of organising the first workshop on "Making Water Everybody's
Business" for the journalists by CSE's Media Centre was apt. Entangled in the Cauvery
water dispute, Karnataka also presents an ideal background to promote the concept of
community-based rainwater harvesting.
The workshop was attended by journalists from remote towns of the four south
Indian states. A panel of eminent water experts highlighted the varied aspects of
community-based rainwater harvesting. Field visits to Raj Bhavan and Denso Kirloskar
Industries amongst many other places convinced the group of the merits of this technology.
The people of Kalahandi and Bolangir, Orissa, are gradually breaking away from
the vicious circle of drought, poverty and starvation. These changes became apparent
during a jal yatra (walk for water) organised by the Indian National Trust for the Welfare
of Tribals (INTWOT), a New Delhi-based non governmental organisation (NGO) alongwith
Sabuja Baiplav, a local NGO. (For details: firstname.lastname@example.org) About 150 people walked
from the village Salmeta to Katapalli, Bolangir on October 2.
On Sept 30 to Oct 4, Foundation for Education and Development,a New Delhi-based
NGO, organised a workshop, called doosra dasak. It concentrated on issues and practices
related to water, forest and land management. A CSE staffer spoke on the water
conservation practices followed in India, which participants felt can ensure them
sustainable livelihoods, at low cost.
During the yatra it was revealed that the impact of the district rural
development agency's watershed programme - Jal Chagan, has been extremely positive. Soil
erosion has reduced and the water tables are improving. The village youth clubs have taken
up the responsibility of mobilising the people. "This is the second yatra that we
have organised in this area and the people's willingness to conserve water has visibly
improved," says Neeraj Kaushik from INTWOT.