First the impact: within five years the water table has gone up by 20 feet.
Between 1996 - 2002, the land under assured irrigation has increased from 13 to 243
hectares (ha) of the total 4,998 ha. Per capita income of most of the 249 households has
registered an increase. This is the result of the water and soil conservation works taken
up by the Gond tribals, living in village Rajkheta, Chattisgarh.
Since medieval times, this village has only witnessed poverty and drought,
despite being ecologically rich. The region receives 1,600 milli meters (mm) of annual
rainfall and is endowed with fertile soil and thick forests. Under the guidance of a local
non-governmental organisation Surguja Gramin Vikas Sansthan (SGVS), villagers took the
initiative to improve their lot."When the work started in 1995, the region was going
through a dry spell and the villagers initial interest in this project was to work as
labourers.However, after tasting the initial success, they became serious,"shared
PNSingh, head of SGVS. They contributed Rs six lakhs of the total project cost of Rs 31
lakhs by way of labour.
"Now we even have excess food to sell," said Ramnath Gond, a
villager.Today, as many parts of the state are under water stress, Rajkheta has enough
water to grow paddy - an unimaginable feat, some five years ago.
Source: Sharma 2002, Where every drop of rain counts, Newstime
One of the largest soap producing units of Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) in
Khamgaon block, Buldhana district, Maharashtra, has gradually reduced its dependence on
groundwater by harnessing rainwater.
In 1993, HLL decided to reclaim five hectares of wasteland inside the factory
using soil and water conservation technique as developed by Anna Hazare in Ralegaon
Siddhi. The run-off is restricted by constructing a series of earthen bunds. The soil
quality has improved and around 8,000 cubic meters of rainwater is collected every year.
Different varieties of trees has been planted with the help of Bhartiya Agro Industries
Foundation (BAIF) - transforming wasteland into green belt. More than 8,000 trees of
timber, fruit, ornamental and other species has been planted. Wastewater management has
also been integrated into the project. The kitchen and production waste is composted and
used as manure. The effluent is treated and re-used for irrigation.
Its accomplishments has been awarded by the Vidarbha Industrial Safety Committee
and the Inspectorate of Factories. HLL is now extending this project to its other
The Kiwi connection
The civil society of New Zealand is involved in not only extending relief
services but also funding community development projects in India. World Vision (WV), an
international christian humanitarian aid and development organisation, has provided them
the opportunity to get involved. Currently it is supporting more than 70 projects in 18
countries. Their programmes are unique.
The government of Andhra Pradesh (AP) has initiated a unique project -'water
soldiers' to facilitate effective implementation of the land and tree act, 2002. About 600
ex-servicemen are being trained on rainwater harvesting (RWH) techniques by the Hyderabad
Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board to sensitise people in the twin cities to
begin with. Later, it will be extended to the entire state. "Ex-servicemen are widely
respected in society and their feedback on RWH would have a salutary effect on the
residents, facilitating implementation," hopes Chandrababu Naidu, the chief minister
The 40 hours famine
By going without something dear like, food, computers, telephones or talking for
40 hours, the people raise money for overseas donation. Even eight to ten year old kids
join in. In march, it was organised to help the village communities in Dahod, Gujarat, to
Most common form of famine is going without food. Kiwis can consume Campanella's
barley sugar and Just Juice's natural juices. Both these companies donate 75 per cent of
the total amount collected. Started in 1975, it has become an annual event for around one
lakh people, currently raising more than Aus $ 2.5 million. (www.famine.org.nz)
development programme (ADP)
The objective of this programme is to make the village communities self reliant,
by prioritising their needs. Since 1995, one of the five project that is active in
Banswara, Rajasthan, has primarily concentrated on water conservation works. The
results are worth noting.
In one of the project villages', Garadiya, with WV's financial assistance,
villagers built a checkdam. Positive results, encouraged them to plan for another one,
which was opposed by the women. Increased drinking among men due to greater disposable
income from bumper crops was women's concern, which was acknowledged and ultimately
resolved. "By speaking up, these women, who earlier were not even allowed to talk in
the village meetings - has ensured a better life," says an ADP staff, while sharing
the benefits. Commendable, indeed!