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Gujarat village fights drought by harvesting water

By Chandrani Banerjee
Gujarat (Dahod), May 17



Traditional water conservation methods, like the watershed technique, have helped the villagers in Gujarat and Rajasthan to deal with drought. The 1999 monsoon failure resulted in severe drought in Gujarat leading to scarcity of water in most parts of Gujarat.

A local non-governmental organisation, N.M. Sadguru Water and Development Foundation, introduced the technique of bunding and check dams in some village of Gujarat. Speaking to The Asian Age, the director of the Sadguru Foundation, Mr Harnath Jagawat, said: “The people were facing a serious water crisis in the Dahod district.

About 78 per cent of the villagers used to migrate from the area for at least 10 months. There were no wells in the village. The farmlands were of no use. So we introduced the watershed projects and helped local communities construct a series of check dams.

These check dams hold the rain water for a particular stretch and after a calculated distance, another check dam is needed to revive a river. The Sadguru Foundation offered technical expertise to the local Bheel population, and a reservoir was created which has a capacity of 453,070 cubic meters at Mahudi village.

The river that used to dry up four months after the rainy season has enough water to meet the irrigation needs of the people in the area despite the drought. “This has been possible only because of constant recharging of groundwater through watershed interventions,” explains Rakesh Pandey, deputy director of the Sadguru Foundation, who led the team that worked out the technical aspects of water harvesting structures.

“The cascadal reservoir model has been successful,” says Mr Pandey, explaining that it involves building small dams near the source of the river and the construction of small irrigation structures downstream. The water trapped in the dams also recharges groundwater.

The foundation revived a river called Machhan at Mahudi Village. Mr Jagawat points out that the water flowing in Machhan is “from last year’s rain water as there was no run off this year. The rainfall this year was only 350 mm compared to the annual average of 830 mm.”

“Yet all the 23 wells constructed in the adjoining villages of the Dahod district have enough water to meet their drinking water requirements. The framers have cultivated three crops and irrigated 135 hectares of land,” he added. The Dahod residents are independently managing these check dams and wells constructed with the help of the Sadguru Foundation.

which has adopted villages in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan for this project. The foundation has also carried out an intensive watershed project by stone trenching and bunding, terracing and planting trees at Mahudi and Barsawa villages in Gujarat.


 
 
 
 

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