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Case Studies 3
Case Study 3
Safeguarding food and water security for the Hill towns of Uttarakhand-Building Jal Kosh
Climate change and unplanned urbanisation is causing irreversible damage to availability of water for both- domestic and agricultural needs. People don’t have access to water supply and depend on nearby water streams for their water needs. Most of the villages in Uttarakhand share the same story. One such cluster of more than 15 villages is located in the Kumaon region, which is home to more than 20,000 villagers. The dry spell lasts as long as 9 months in this region and the maximum impact is borne by the women of the area. Making more than 15 rounds every-day to fetch water from a single ‘dhara’, more than 600 women start their water quest at 3 am and continue till night.
In 1992, an initiative to rectify the situation began when some villagers started constructing tanks to store rain water for domestic use and later extend the initiative to use the stored water for irrigation as well. For this purpose, a ‘no-cement rule’ was applied and a mud tank was dug & neatly lined with a paste of mud and cow dung. Then the tank was finally lined with a plastic sheet of 250 micron to increase the holding duration of the tanks. Each tanks costs approximately INR 4000. Initially, people from Pata village helped each other to construct 90 small tanks of approximately 5k litres. In 2012, the second phase of this initiative was started when these villagers were joined by more individuals and farmers from surrounding villages to build the Jal Kosh (water tanks). Phase 3 of the initiative started in 2017, when a sudden drop in crop productivity was observed by the villagers and it motivated them to build bigger Jal Kosh of upto 16k litres at the top and 5k litres at the bottom. Construction and finishing time for each tank was between 7 to 15 days. Villagers were able to easily store 10k to 15k litre of water to keep their fields irrigated round the year. This community driven initiative was backed by “Janmaitri Sangathan” and the Jal Kosh system was brought to mainstream in solving everyday water needs for villagers and farmers. The strong sense of belongingness among villagers, made the monitoring and maintenance activities very smooth.
- Around 700 Jal Kosh constructed till date
- More than 17000 individuals benefitting from these Jal Kosh
- Everyday struggle of women to fetch water reduced
- Conservation of 70+ lakh litres of rainwater
- More than 2700 hectare of extra irrigated land developed
- Improved yield of crops
- Economic condition of families improved
- Improved standard of living with access to education and information on safeguarding community forests and better farming practices Currently around 150 Tanks are under construction
It took 30 years to make this a working example of water conservation in hilly regions. A sustainable and self-reliant practice where no high level funding is needed.
“In the super dry spell of 2017 we were witnessing no rains even during monsoons and we stook to construct 90 Tanks in Pata villages during the harvests we witnessed Bumper harvest in this very village and close to no harvest in nearby villages which pushed us to increase more tanks.”
- Mahesh Singh Galiya (Vill.)
“From the day we have constructed these tanks, we now finally get some time for ourselves, to take care of us women, go use this time to gather knowledge, and relax a little bit, we now have a guarantee to harvest, our kettle now have access to more water and fodder in our local forests.”
- Rajeshwari Devi Nyal (Vill.)
“After this achievement there is enthusiasm in the farmers, there success story has started to be heard far and wide. Some foreign researchers have come to study it. We are working on the plan to further expand this campaign.”
- Bachi Singh Bisht (Vill.)