Small Check-Dams can change lives in water-scarce Bundelkhand
simple innovation like a check-dam has dramatically turned around the lives of
the 500-odd people in 90 poor Adivasi houselholds in this village located on a
water-scarce plateau in Madhya Pradesh, where the nearest water body was once
over four kilometres away.
Located in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh's
Bundelkhand region, Patna village (curiously sharing its name with BiharÂ’s
capital) also recorded one of the lowest per-capita incomes in the country for
the very same reason: lack of water. Crops invariably failed in an area where
livelihoods were entirely dependent on agriculture.
All that changed in 2013, when an initiative by NGO Haritika,
with the support of Anandana, Coca-Cola India Foundation, to create a check-dam
and generate solar power led to increased water levels and higher per-capita
income for the villagers. The village now has a water-distribution system
through a solar-powered bore well, 60 toilets for the households, 15 solar
street lights and a check-dam that can hold over 12,446,400 litres of water.
Until two years ago, 30-year-old Sheel Rani, a resident of the village, had
to spend over five hours each day to fetch a minimum of 25 litres of water
required for her household's use.
"I would have to make more than 4-5 trips to the lake, which
remains dried up for over four months a year, to serve my household needs. Most
of my day would go into fetching water. Now, household water pumps are a
blessing for our village," Sheel Rani told IANS during this writer's visit to
For farmer Raggho Pal, 39, his annual income, which used to be less than
Rs.5,000 ($75), has now doubled as the check-dam can store water for growing
"The check-dam has brought a lot of change in our lives. The
mango and guava plantations that I had never survived the heat and lack of
water. Now I manage to make Rs.200 a week by selling fruit that is grown
entirely in an organic way," Raggho Pal said.
"Through projects like these, aimed at water-scarce regions
that exist in 40 other areas of the country in states like Karnataka, Andhra
Pradesh and Rajasthan, among others, about 13 billion litres of water is being
replenished in the country," Anandana chief executive officer Yogesh Chandra
Bundelkhand is one of the country's most water-scarce regions where many
people migrate from their villages to the banks of the rivers to survive during
summer, Chandra said.
"Our aim is to serve the communities that are not within the
commercial coverage of Coca-Cola. We function in the areas where Coca-Cola does
not draw water for its commercial usage. If we are drawing about five billion
litres of water from a place, we are replenishing about 13 billion litres in
other drought-prone regions," Chandra added.
Avni Mohan Singh, the founder and executive director of NGO Haritika, which
has been implementing the water replenishment project in Patna village, is
satisfied with the results.