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Series: Combating drought – 3: Traditional methods to the rescue

India is reeling under a back-to-back drought, with 10 states declared affected and nearly 2,00,000 villages affected,  and shredding the social fabric in affected areas. In this concluding part of our series on combating drought, we present examples where traditional methods for water harvesting have been successfully put to use by communities to drought-proof themselves.

Conservation: Lessons from ancient India
Jayant Sriram, The Hindu
Ecologically safe engineering marvels of water conservation have existed in India for nearly 1,500 years, including traditional systems of water harvesting, such as the bawari, jhalara, nadi, tanka, and khadin. Even today these systems remain viable and cost-effective alternatives to rejuvenate depleted groundwater aquifers, according to experts. With government support, these structures could be upgraded and productively combined with modern rainwater-saving techniques such as anicuts, percolation tanks, injection wells and subsurface barriers. This may be a far more sustainable approach to alleviating the water scarcity crisis across India.

Saving raindrops for thirty years
Saurabh Sharma, The Times of India
Long queues for government-supplied water tankers are a common summer sight in most parts of Rajasthan. But in Laporiya, a village 80 km from Jaipur, a collective effort to harvest water by 350 families has been defying drought for the past 30 years. While ground water has gone down to 500 feet in nearby areas, it is found at 15-40 feet in this village. Not only does lush Laporiya have enough water for its population of nearly 2,000, it even supplies water to some 10-15 surrounding villages.

Farmers in Odisha’s Bargarh swear by traditional methods
Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times
As Odisha’s agricultural fields starve for water due to drought conditions this year, Majhi never had a problem watering his crop in Kharamal village in Bargarh district’s parched Paikmal block, more than 500 km from Bhubaneswar. Equipped with chahala – a small traditional water harvesting structure – and a vermi-compost pit the three-acre farm, on which he cultivates rice and several varieties of vegetables, has never failed Majhi, even during drought. The marginal farmer sells vegetables worth Rs. 2,000 every week in the nearby market – all this without any investment in chemical fertiliser and pesticide.

His Traditional Rainwater Harvesting Techniques are Helping a Parched Rajasthan Conserve Water
Shreya Pareek, The Better India
Jethu Singh Bhati uses traditional methods of rain harvesting, practices agriculture without irrigation, and recycles waste. His dedicated efforts are not only helping meet the needs of a parched Rajasthan, but are making the state environment-friendly as well.

How One Woman Made 100 Villages in Rajasthan Fertile Using Traditional Water Harvesting Methods
The Better India
It is not unusual to see dry and deserted farms in Rajasthan, a land known for its scorching summers, parched soil and lack of sufficient water to sustain normal life. But there are some villages where water is no longer a problem, farmers are growing not one but three crops a year, and households are even earning additional income from animal husbandry! Amla Ruia has transformed the face of over 100 villages in Rajasthan by using traditional water harvesting techniques and building check dams. This is the story of how she made it all possible by engaging the local community and generating an income of Rs. 300 crores per annum for 2 lakh villagers.

How Jharkhand’s Waterman Is Ensuring All Year Water Supply in 51 Villages & Bringing Back the Forest
The Better India
He has changed the lives of thousands of villagers with a massive tree plantation drive and has organised a well and pond digging initiative to store rainwater as well. Simon Oraon is a resident of Khaksi Toli village, which comes under Bero block, about 35 kms from Ranchi. He has been working in 51 villages of Bero to protect natural flora for decades and was awarded the Padma Shri recently.

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